A few months ago I was speaking with a whisky buddy of mine. I mentioned that I was a Balvenie fan, which struck a neuron in his head. Turns out there was a whisky coming in.
While we can’t say for certain that it was Balvenie, the rumours were that it was peated Balvenie. But those are just rumours. And we all know what rumours are good for Fleetwood Mac, and not society (other than enjoying music as part of society, that album is still good).
So I’m now at the reviews of the end of year tasting, a tasting we save bottles we think will be straight fire (saying that makes me hip and cool and one jive mothafucka, right?). I went first because always start with your weakest person (for bringing bomb ass bottles).
Thus I brought the rumoured peated Balvenie, Speyside 29 1989 The Whisky Agency Heads & Tails. 29 years old, from a Speyside distillery, independently bottled, and aged in an ex-bourbon hogshead.
But how does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Matured in a Hogshead
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Medium amber honey, papaya, banana, grassy, jalapeno cornbread
Immediately you get that mixture of honey and tropical fruit that screams Balvenie. I can see why the rumours are what they are. Perhaps I Don’t Want to Know (get it, because that’s a song on that album… I’ll shut up about it now).
Lighter nose, water opens up more of a corn/sweet heat aspect to it which I enjoyed. However, you’re not getting a ton of complexity for the age.
Taste: Lime, honey, malt, papaya, cloves, caramel
Lime, honey, more malt and spice. It’s nicely balanced, has some different flavours, and nice to sip on.
That all said, again we’re seeing nice flavours and not “Oh Daddy” levels of complexity. I returned to the dram after letting the bottle opened up after a few months, and the caramel has gotten richer.
Finish: Grassy/anise, butter, mineral, lime, banana, cranberry
Mineral, more earth/fruity aspects. Good mineral balance, nice spice, and overall continues on the idea before. There are dips into banana. It’s not the finish of your Dreams, but rather quite nice to sip on.
Conclusion: Less bombastic than original bottling Balvenie. That’s not bad, and certainly, a high standard (for me) to hit. I still enjoyed this, don’t get me wrong. It still has that great honey note, little less funky/yeasty than others and a very clean dram.
I’m not angry about owning or trying this whisky. I’m not as sad about it as others at the tasting. It’s very much in line with a Balvenie, though I wonder about any peat whatsoever in it.
So try this before you buy it.
Scotch review #1081, Speyside review #301, Whisky review #1686