Balvenie and Glenfiddich (both owned by William Grant & Sons) are going after different markets. Glenfiddich is releasing broad market-driven products like Glenfiddich IPA and Balvenie is focusing on attracting whisky enthusiasts.
The Single Barrel line-extension is an example of a product intended for whisky enthusiasts. It's rare that single malt scotch is released in the single barrel variety--most are a blend of tens, if not hundreds, of barrels of whisky. When one blends multiple barrels of whisky to create a single malt scotch, the complexity of the whisky comes from the blending process. When a distillery bottles an individual barrel, this demonstrates the confidence distillery owners have in their whisky. You can't blend the faults away.
It's an easy inference to make that only a distillery confident in their product would release a single barrel version of their scotch. Balvenie's focus on quality is clear. The single barrel extension comes in the 12 year old American oak, and the 16 year old European oak.As they are single barrel products, there's an expected variation between samples.
With this single barrel whisky, you're getting the truest expression of a single malt scotch aged in American oak barrels. It's beautifully done.
The Balvenie Single Barrel 12 Year Old - Cask number 5866 First Fill
The Balvenie Distillery
Taste Score: 93
Category: Single malt scotch
Whisky Cabinet Score: ★ ★ ★ ☆
Nose: Bright lemon citrusy skin, green apple pop, vanilla, and light ginger nose. It's nicely complex, and all the flavors make sense.
Palate: A whisky that opens up wonderfully upon first sip. The high lemon citrus hits you to start, and the vanilla notes come next to compliment the flavor. There's a bite to this palate similar to that of the air that hangs around when you squeeze a lemon. It's almost like lemon pulp. There are no flaws to the finish, as it keeps on with this buttery lemon notes that remind me of apple pie. The reason to love this whisky is the evolution of flavor from start to finish.
Conclusion: I wish all single malt scotches were made in this image. It is clearly a scotch made of malted barley. The grain comes through wonderfully, but so do the oak flavors. To me, these are classic old-school scotch flavors that the industry often waters down to 40%. At 47.8%, it's absolutely delicious.