David Stewart, the master blender, is known for many things. Spending more than 50 years with the same company (William Grant & Sons), being incredibly down to earth despite his success, and creating many a delicious dram.
One of the most talked about ones of the past few years from The Balvenie of his doing has been those labelled under the Tun 1401 brand. Made from a marriage of casks – many as old as 40 years – and vatted together to make a limited edition non-age statement whisky, the Tun 1401 sells out quickly. Which, is pretty much what Batch 8 has now done.
I was there at the launch at The Balvenie Fete in June but didn’t get the chance to try it as I was busy running masterclasses, teaching people about whisky in the next door area.
As such, I’ve finally had a moment’s pause to sit down and take a look at it. As to background, the whisky is comprised of a vatting of nine American oak and three European oak casks of varying age, the youngest from the ’90s, but the majority from the ’70s.
It’s pretty much disappeared from shelves, but if you find someone who’s got a bottle around and opened, then take a look and see if you agree with my notes.
The Balvenie Tun 1401: Batch 8; 50.2%
(C): Golden mahogany
(N): Oranges and honey at first: so much so, I almost expect a bee to come buzzing by. It’s classy and elegant, with additional notes of woody spice, a dusting of chocolate, vanilla creams and pine.
(P): This is definitely a drier, spicier incarnation of The Balvenie than I’m used to. There’s less honey and floral notes, and more treacle and spice. It’s quite oily and thick on the palace, with oranges and cream at the front of the palate, followed by red chilies, vanilla pods, chocolate and licorice.
(F): Burnt caramel flans
I thought this had a really beautiful nose that was highly alluring. Where I was surprised was on the palate as I am used to slightly lighter incarnations of The Balvenie, where this packs a more chewy punch and a richer finish than normal.