Whisky Review – The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year Old

I first tried The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 at the Rare Craft Roadshow event that I attended back in late September. Since I found this whisky to be very different from all of the other Balvenie expressions that I’ve tried over the years, I decided to add it to my Christmas wish list. Thanks to my very generous Mother-In-Law, I now have my very own bottle.

Here is what The Balvenie has to say about this whisky:

The Balvenie Single Barrel is a 15 year old single malt which is drawn from a single traditional oak whisky cask of a single distillation. Whilst each cask is subtly different, The Balvenie Malt Master selects only those casks which have the essential characteristics of The Balvenie Single Barrel, particularly honey, vanilla and oaky notes. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles – so each bottle is unique and unrepeatable.

Let’s find out if I enjoyed this whisky as much the second time around…

  • Appearance: Golden amber (duh). Lots of thin, fast moving  legs form after giving it a swirl.
  • Aroma: Vanilla. Allspice. Maple syrup and dark brown sugar. Cinnamon. A whiff of cigar smoke.
  • Taste: Slightly oily mouthfeel. That first sip tingles the tip and sides of my tongue. Lots of cinnamon spiciness from beginning to end. Becomes somewhat astringent at mid-palate. Could this be the effect of 15 years in an oak barrels, i.e. is this what they mean by oaky? A lingering finish that leaves your mouth feeling all warm and tingly with spicy cinnamon and brown sugar infused goodness.
  • ABV: 47.8%

I may be way off base here, but I found The Balvenie Single Barrel to have very Bourbon like qualities. The Bourbon that comes to mind is the 2010 Eagle Rare 17 that I purchased in January of 2011. Much like the Eagle Rare 17, this is a very smooth and delicious whisky. It also has a good balance of sweet and spicy flavors. Although I somewhat prefer the 12 year old DoubleWood and the 21 year old PortWood, this is still an excellent Balvenie expression that I look forward to enjoying and sharing throughout the year.

14 replies »

  1. G-LO, sounds good! This is on my wish-list too. Sounds kindof like The Glenlivet Nadurra, which I had recently (still have actually) and is aged 16 years in 100% first-fill bourbon casks. It also has a lot of vanilla cream and cinnamon notes.


    • We are big fans of The Nadurra. Potent and delicious! Pappy, aka Limpd’s Dad, aka The Godfather of Whisky, aka Il Duce, is a HUGE fan of The Nadurra. He has attended every Extravaganza with us and always seems to hover at The Glenlivet table.

      Limpd recently picked up a Balvenie sampler pack. Not sure it it’s available in PA, but could be worth looking into. Have yet to have a subpar whisky from them.


    • Totally agree! I like how it is very different from their other expressions. Then again… most of their whiskies have very unique flavor profiles. Never a case of “the same old same old” where The Balvenie is concerned.


  2. Nice review. Sounds like we need to roll out a tasting of the DoubleWood, the 15 SIngle Barrel, the Caribbean cask (if there is any left) and the PortWood.


  3. Hey G-LO!
    Great review (as always!). I’m really impressed with your comparisons too – it takes a strong taste-memory to be able to remember examples like the ones you have provided.

    I always learn something here. Thanks!!!


    • To be honest, I rarely have experiences like this (ie, my memory is rarely that good), but the Eagle Rare 17 was a very unique and memorable whiskey for me (maybe because it took some time to track down a bottle!), so it was an easy comparison to make. Pity there isn’t any left. Heh

      Glad you enjoyed the review!


  4. This is one I’ll have to try. I’m really not a fan of the smoke flavor that is in pretty much every scotch I’ve tried thus far, and since its not in your tasting notes maybe this is a scotch I would enjoy. I kept meaning to post a message asking for a few scotches that had little to no smoke flavor, or if I was hoping in vein, but it seems like this might be the answer to my question. Great review!




    • Thanks Chuck! Personally, I love a smoky whisky, so I most likely have a higher tolerance for that particular flavor dimension. That being said, I didn’t find this to be smoky at all. Since you seem to have pretty good access to most whiskies (i.e. NYC), you should ask around about buying a 50 ml sample. I think you’ll like this one.



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