Malt Master David C. Stewart ages this dark malt first in American oak barrels and then in European oak sherry casks for a total of seventeen years, creating an intense expression with depth of flavor and complex aromatics.
What strikes the most is the honey richness in the nose supported by thick vanilla paste, burnt cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. The stratified aromatic array is intriguing yet comforting. These are two types of casks perfectly balanced, each adding its own personality to the malt.
The palate brings forward aromas of dried fruits: fig, date, desiccated apples, and a lovely set of flavors reminiscent of roasted hazelnuts and almonds over raw honey, toffee and pure vanilla extract. The mouthfeel is intense and coating, but there’s an underlying elegance balancing the full-bodied expression.
The Balvenie Doublewood 17 closes with a persistent aftertaste of honey molasses and vanilla bean that don’t seem to dissipate for minutes. An unctuous and lavish expression.
Sip or skip?
Extended aging often overshadows the malts honeyed richness dominating with oak spices instead, but not in the Balvenie Doublewood 17. The oaky vanilla and the brown spices compliment the rich malt in harmony. Perhaps the most robust Balvenie in the distillery’s range.
Other Balvenie expressions to try
The Balvenie Doublewood 12, crafted to mark the Doublewood’s 25th anniversary, is a younger and more vibrant version of the 17-year-old. American Oak ex-bourbon barrels and hogsheads, and nine months in Spanish oak ex-Oloroso sherry casks make this malt a beauty, and a very well-priced one as well.