There are certain distilleries that deserve reverence. The Balvenie is one.
I have yet to purchase a particular release from The Balvenie and found it wanting. With every new bottle, when the presentation container cap is removed and the bottle is lifted from its womb, I motion for silence in the room, even if no one is there. I want to hear the pop of the cork. It deserves to be heard because it signals the beginning of a promised, enduring goodness. The rites and ceremonies for this Madeira Cask were the same and, as anticipated, rightfully due.
With the first sip, the bottle labeling is proven true. It tastes like a traditional Balvenie whisky, born of a bourbon cask and exceptionally regal. The oak, honey, and vanilla are there, like a comfortable liturgy of familiarity. But with the finishing process occurring in a Madeira wine cask, you realize that this liturgy was meant to serve a high feast day. The label suggests spice and fruit, but neither of these is particularly prominent, only resonant. With the spice, maybe a pinch of cinnamon within the Madeira cask as a whole and reflected in every bottle of its bosom; and the fruit, a peach perhaps.
This whisky is a gem, especially since it is an extremely limited release (one of only a few in a 17-year collection) and won’t be around for much longer. If you find one, buy it, and then silence the room.