Balvenie 21 Year old Port Wood Finish

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Distillery/Brand: Balvenie
Region: Speyside
ABV: 40%
Color: Copper

Nose: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 23
Balance: 24

Review
Early on in my days as a malt enthusiast (read freak) I was always on the lookout for Jim Murrays’ 93+ point whiskies and this 21 year old port finished Balvenie was on top of my ‘must buy’ list. So imagine my utter delight when I discovered this at the Duty Free during one of my travels.

As expected I had no idea what I was drinking. Not only that, I had the audacity to write a three line review and post it for all and sundry to see. I praised it but had no inkling why I was praising it.

Today I know why.

Nose: Robust. Confident. As you would expect a 21 year old to be. A whisky, that is! The port finish comes through on the back of remarkably balanced cocoa beans and fruit cake wrapped in chewy toffee. Then there is the sweet beeswax complemented by gorgeous red apples and a teasing cinnamon spice. And grapes. Lots of grapes. Dark grapes.

Palate: Beautifully textured. I know it’s medium-bodied but the palate is sending thick syrupy signals to the brain. Must be all that cocoa, thick grapes and warm apple stew covered in salty nuts.

Finish: Long and seductive. The cinnamon fruitcake is back and renders you almost incapacitated.

This is truly an example of what real magic must feel like.

Rating: 94

The Naked Grouse

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Distillery/Brand: Famous Grouse
Region: Scotland
ABV: 40%
Color: Deep Gold

Nose: 23
Taste: 22
Finish: 22
Balance: 23

Review
This little beauty was slipped in as a mystery malt at a single malt tasting recently and everyone was asked to identify it. My guess was The Macallan which made me only half right!

This is a lovely no-nonsense blend from Famous Grouse using arguably two of the most famous malts in the world – The Macallan & Highland Park. It is so no-nonsense that it doesn’t even have a label choosing, instead, to go ‘naked’ as the name suggests.

Nose: With malts matured in first-fill sherry casks the nose has a really rich and deep sherry influence. Lots of gooey rum topf and fruit cake with a raisin sprinkle followed by dark oranges, prunes and oaky almonds. A Christmas delight!

Palate: Not as delicious as the nose but quite tasty still. Cinnamon sticks on dark fruits and oaky oranges drizzled with a spicy chocolate syrup. I think it could have done with another 6% to really jar the taste buds into ecstacy.

Finish: Quite decent. Not very long but long enough, I suppose. The same dark oranges and spicy cinnamon.

This is a seriously good blend. Not only is it delicious it is an impossibly good deal in todays’ day and age.

Get a case of this (won’t cost you much) and enjoy it for a long long time.

Rating: 90