There are certain distilleries that have earned my reverence. The Balvenie is one. Never have I purchased a particular release from The Balvenie and found it wanting. With every new bottle, when the shipping 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 taking place 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 I would suggest that 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.