Writing this blog, I’m lucky enough to taste a wide variety of whiskies – special editions, limited, releases, unusual finishes, etc. As I result, it’s easy to lose sight of the great whiskies which don’t get much press. These are the malts which sit in drinks cupboards or on bar shelves, and are consumed by the public week in, week out. A bit like a reliable centre-half in football – Tom Boyd maybe? And one of my favourite whiskies in this category is The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old.
Part of the William Grant & Sons business, The Balvenie was one of the first distilleries to start introducing unique finishes to its range. It might be hard to believe, but in days gone by, whisky was just put into ONE cask before being bottled. Master Blender David Stewart soon changed this approach though, and before long, most distilleries were finishing their whiskies in a variety of different casks.
The Balvenie DoubleWood’s distinctive character comes from its double maturation. First, it’s aged in a first or second-fill bourbon cask, before spending another year in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. This has the effect of rounding off the whisky’s harsher edges, whilst also adding a big dollop of sweetness.
The sherry finish gives the nose a sweetness, which is layered on top of the honey and vanilla influence of the American oak cask. On it palate, it’s smooth, continuing on the sherry flavours with added nuttiness and cinnamon. The finish is long and dry, with a final spicy note – a classic after-dinner malt.
Is The Balvenie DoubleWood a ‘complex’ whisky? No. Is it a good whisky? Yes – a solid performer and one you can always rely on a half decent whisky bar stocking. And at under £40, an absolute bargain!