KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2017: Day 16

16 12 2017

Two important beliefs that help make up my worldview are:  (1) Rum is delicious.  (2) Things soaked or aged in rum invariably taste better.  As such, I’ve wondered why there’s a relative dearth of rum cask whiskies out there, at least in comparison to the Bourbon Barrels and the (continual eternal string of) Oloroso Sherry Casks out there.  Thankfully, tonight, The Balvenie comes to the rescue…well, sort of, at least.  This is the first ever Balvenie calendar whisky that I’ve come across in 4 years, and it’s into the We’re Getting Serious portion of Advent, clocking in at $107 for a full-sized bottle.  It sells its rum influence hard, naming itself the “Caribbean Cask” and trumpeting that it is “Extra Matured In Rum Casks” (yes, “extra-matured” makes a second 2017 calendar appearance); a more careful review both brings that into some question and turns The Balvenie into a modern-day rum runner.


Why is the rum gone?

This is stated to be a 14 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky.  The Balvenie’s website states that this whisky was first aged in traditional American oak whisky casks for…14 years before being transferred to Caribbean rum casks for finishing.  I’m no math expert, but obviously the time spent in rum could not be measured in years given the variables before us.  But the actual brevity of the entire marketing core of this whisky is forgiven by the best cask story I’ve come across in 4 years of calendars.  Most whiskies aged in other booze casks obtain used barrels from wine or spirit producers for their new use in whisky maturation.  Instead of obtaining used rum casks (which surely exist), however, The Balvenie opted to take their own American oak casks and FILL THEM UP WITH RUM (a West Indies blend of their own selection), only to then empty out the rum and fill the drained casks back up with the whisky for a brief aging interlude.  The ideal, and completely true, epilogue of the story:  The Balvenie then RE-SOLD the rum at a profit because now it too was extra-matured.

The resulting sort-of-rum-aged concoction is a rich amber colour that certainly suggests extended maturation, and a resplendently rummy nose that makes me feel bad I questioned its Caribbean bona fides above:  cinnamon buns, nutmeg, gingerbread, pumpkin and honey create a combination I could keep smelling for a long time.  Languid yet spicy on the tongue, it prickles the palate with a cedary tangy bite, all the while unfolding confectionary charms in a carefree, leisurely manner.  White chocolate, peach, mocha, treacle and hot sand aren’t quite as rum-influenced as the aromas, but they are no less delicious.  It’s basically impossible to drink this whisky and be unhappy.




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