Of Old-world Charm & Whisky: Balvenie Distillery
An 18th-century mansion by the name of Balvenie New House in the Speyside region of Scotland is home to Balvenie Distillery. William Grant converted the abandoned structure into a distillery in 1892. The word ‘Balvenie’ translates into the ‘village of luck’. With the commencement of its production of single malt Scotch, luck did turn ‘the William Grant Way’.
What Makes the Balvenie Unique ?
Balvenie Distillery is often looked upon as the ‘complete distillery’. The whisky it produces is unlike any other single malt Scotch. Now, the reasons for that are five-fold. The ‘Five Rare Crafts’ of Balvenie make for a happy union of age-old craftsmanship and natural conditions of the Scottish Highlands. For starters, most of their traditional Scottish barley is homegrown at Balvenie Main- in the land adjoining the distillery buildings. It is the only distillery in the Scottish Highlands to do so. Next, the barley grains are steeped on the maltings floor of the distillery after being washed by local spring water. Here, the grains are turned by hand to prepare them for the kiln- the next stage of processing. Their remarkable copper stills impart a unique taste to their whisky. Very little about the shape and the size of the stills have changed since the distillery first opened. The coppersmiths will have you know that they throw in a handful of junipers to ‘sweeten the still’ before the process begins. There is ‘nae science’ to the quantity of junipers added or the duration of time they boil in the stills before the whiskey-making can begin. They just know ! Balvenie Distillery also has its own on-site team of coopers on its on-site cooperage. They repair, seal and caramelise the wooden casks. The wood sugar is ‘toasted’ to caramelise it, a process integral to developing the flavour of whisky. Finally, there comes the ‘Malt Master’. He has an intuitive knowledge and the patient experience of one who knows his whisky. Seeking the balance of notes and consistency of character, the Malt Master imagines how each cask will mature. He just has a ‘nose for it’ !
The Taste of Balvenie
Human touch at every stage of production makes the taste of Balvenie single malt Scotch very unique. On the palate, it carries the sweetness of honey and vanilla notes. This combines with the flavours of different casks. From oak vessels to sherry casks, ex-bourbon barrels to traditional whisky casks, the single malts only become better when the sweet, fruity notes are complemented with oaky and the darker flavours of casks they mature in.
The range of single malt whiskies crafted by Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE are aged for more than 12 years. Luxurious and smooth, the expression of each is unique. In recent times, Monkey Shoulder blended whisky has been developed. The sweet spice in Monkey Shoulder is supplied by the Balvenie Distillery.
Touring Balvenie Distillery
When you visit the picturesque settings of the Scottish Highlands, spend an afternoon at the Balvenie Distillery. Head here to learn of the processes of whisky-making which are not common anymore, with the industrial production of whisky gaining ground. You will see the traditional maltings floor and meet the master craftsmen. If you want to taste some of the best malt whiskies in the world, breathe in a heady aroma of the golden tipple, the opportunity will present itself here. Bottle your own Balvenie while on tour at Warehouse 24. It is on the premises and costs about 30 Pounds. To keep things ‘personal’, each tour is limited to a maximum of eight visitors. They are held twice daily Monday through Thursday, and only once on Fridays. Make your bookings online and well in advance as the seats fill up fast. The tours last for about two and a half hours and are well worth your time.
The Balvenie single malt Scotch whisky is smooth and rich. It will treat you to world of goodness. For whiskies of a very definite distillery character, raise a toast and tip your hat to the very superior taste of Balvenie.