Review: The Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old
Another little classic has become the subject of my next whisky review… and it’s nothing to do with me nearly finishing the bottle *coughcough*. I wanted to do a review of a whisky that some reviewers really rate, whilst others find simply boring.
This 12 year-old from The Balvenie is aged in first/second-fill bourbon casks, with up to another year in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks, and was the first Balvenie I ever purchased. I’ve read in the past that the Balvenie’s usual model can stick to strong honey and heathery flavours. If so, this Doublewood doesn’t seem to be their quintessential whisky then (maybe I’m completely wrong), with the Oloroso sherry influence bringing a slightly heavier depth, concealing the wispy floral notes.
This is a whisky that can really get mixed reviews. I sometimes find myself agreeing with both sides of the arguments for and against it…. I guess I should dip into it and see what I think.
Nose: Quite a subtle nose. It is pretty sweet, with honey, vanilla and plenty of fruit, especially apple and grape, present. This is not a sherry bomb, but you can clearly smell the sweetness of the Oloroso sherry. The woodiness peaks through too, giving some nice nutty hints also.
Palate: This is one of the smoothest whiskies on my shelf…. In fact, one of the smoothest that I have tasted. Don’t lull yourself into a false sense of security. This may not be the most complex whisky, but is rich, oozes with character and flavours. Wood, chocolate, fruit, vanilla, and gentle spiciness envelop the sweet sherry and bourbon characters. I’m always interested that the fruit and sherry flavours don’t dominate this whisky too much; instead they contribute to the sweet mellowness. (Wait a second…. Is there peat lurking in here somewhere?!)
Finish: Quite a dry and long finish. The floral flavours are far more present now, yet they don’t overpower the sweet woodiness. Hints of lingering red wine and caramel in there also. I find it nicely warming.
Ok. I’m going to say it. No this isn’t the most complex whisky out there. But is that a problem? This is not by any means a bad or boring whisky. In fact, I have enjoyed this bottle over the last few months. It is an above average 12 year-old single malt, which provides some nice simple flavours. Some might miss the sweet fruit and floral notes, but this Doublewood shows subtlety beyond its years. I have had to pay attention to this one if I am to pick up some of its subdued flavours. I do believe that this whisky gives a good example of a quality Speyside whisky and what quality oak aging can achieve, giving wood lovers some surprising twists along the way. All this at (most of the time) a great price range!
In the past I found myself thinking that this can be a relatively simple, one-dimensional whisky. Whereas tonight, whilst really enjoying this dram, I’m thinking to myself that the complexity of flavour and substance is so close to being really awesome…. But there is something missing to make this whisky a true hero. [Answers on a postcard please]
In short. Not as good as the 12 year-old Signature (which I will review in the future), but a nicely sherried dram with some chocolate and interesting woodiness. If you see it reduced in the supermarket…. Buy it and drink it with friends!