Despite being part of William Grant & Sons, I’ve always admired The Balvenie’s willingness to take creative risks with its products. This now includes tampering (for lack of a better word) with the successful Tun 1401 bottling, which the distillery announced over the summer would be discontinued and replaced with a new batch of releases under the Tun 1509 name.
The main reason for the change was one of capacity. Tun 1401, which always sold out extremely quickly, was deemed increasingly impractical due to its small size, with the distillery having to churn out four separate releases a year. The new Tun 1509 – the marrying vessel which holds the different malts which have been brought together – now holds roughly four times the liquid of its predecessor, allowing The Balvenie to do one release a year of its finest malts.
The first release of The Balvenie Tun 1509 comprises 42 casks selected by malt master David Stewart – 35 American oak barrels and seven European oak Sherry butts. They were all brought together in Warehouse 24’s Tun 1509, where they were allowed to marry together for a period of several months, before being bottled at 47.1%. And the final whisky turns out to be a marriage made in heaven!
The nose of the Tun 1509 is just what you would expect from a Balvenie – big, deep and rich, with hints of vanilla and orange. It is velvety smooth to taste, continuing the tangy citrus flavours, alongside notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and honey. The silky mouth taste then opens out into a long and warming finish. I sampled it in the company of my good friend Iain Boyd, who summed things up by saying “It reminds me of Christmas” – an analysis which I think is spot-on.
The Balvenie Tun 1509 is definitely a worthy successor to The Balvenie’s previous efforts with Tun 1401. Hopefully Santa will be popping a bottle of it in my stocking this Christmas!