William Grant & Sons has revealed five extremely rare single cask single malt bottlings for The Balvenie in its latest release celebrating the skills of malt master David C Stewart.
They form The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3: Secrets of the Stock Model which highlights the way in which David uses his experience, knowledge and skill to control an ever-changing set of variables that impact the maturation of whisky stocks.
The expressions chosen for Chapter 3 each represent a year relevant to the evolution of The Balvenie and epitomise the critical decisions and skilful forecasting David has made throughout the years.
It is the third release in The Balvenie DCS Compendium, with Chapter 1 and 2 released in 2015 and 2016 respectively, leading to 25 single cask single malts being launched in total.
With David now celebrating his 55th year with the company, they celebrate his position as the industry’s longest-serving malt master.
The 1961 is the oldest whisky in the set. David describes it as “a perfect depiction of the style of whisky that The Balvenie distilled around this time”.
The 1973 European oak ex-oloroso sherry butt expression signifies the plentiful years of production during the whisky boom of the 1970s, while the 1981 refill American oak hogshead represents the first vintage the distillery would have used to produce The Balvenie DoubleWood when it launched in 1993.
The 23-year-old whisky matured in refill American oak hogshead from 1993 represents the year the range was re-imagined in the bottle still used today as well as the first use of the term “DoubleWood”, which introduced the double cask maturation process that David pioneered.
The 2004 vintage bottling marks two special occasions in the distillery’s history – David’s 30th year as malt master and the same year he introduced The Balvenie Thirty.
David said: “In my role as malt master, one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding aspects is the management of our large and precious whisky stocks. This chapter is a tribute to the strategic decisions we’ve made over the years, as we look to control stock management variables such as industry demand, new innovations and of course the angels’ share.
“Understanding these decisions and how they will affect the company in years to come has allowed me to experiment with different techniques and finishes, while still holding on to a significant amount of high-quality mature whisky stock for future bottlings. I’m thrilled with the expressions chosen for this chapter and the significance they have in telling the history of The Balvenie.”
The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3 is presented in a bespoke cherry wood and brass frame, hand crafted by Scottish craftsman Sam Chinnery. The rarity of each set is highlighted by an individual number engraved on the presentation case, showing it is one of just 50 sets available worldwide. Individual bottles from the set are also available in a single cherry wood presentation frame.
The Balvenie’s UK brand ambassador Alwynne Gwilt said: “At The Balvenie, we are lucky to have someone who has been working with our whiskies for such a long time. David Stewart MBE has been carefully overseeing our stocks for 55 years, and this latest edition of the DCS Compendium celebrates just that: his incredible knowledge of our whisky stocks and his ability to manage them throughout the years.
“This latest collection is a beautiful celebration of The Balvenie through the ages, and a real must have for any lover or collector of The Balvenie.”
Each set is accompanied by The Balvenie DCS Compendium book, written by Dr Samuel J Simmons, The Balvenie’s global ambassador. The book, which is signed by David, features rare archive imagery from The Balvenie distillery, along with information on each of the five DCS Compendium chapters, which documents the process taken by David in curating the compendium.
A second edition of the book will be released alongside Chapter 3, updated in light of David receiving an MBE in 2016 for his services to the scotch whisky industry.
After Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 reflected the themes of “Distillery Style” and “The Influence of Oak”, the next two in 2018 and 2019 will be “Expecting the Unexpected” and “Malt Master’s indulgence”.
The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3 full tasting notes from William Grant & Sons
1961 Aged 55 years – Cask 4193, European oak oloroso sherry hogshead, filled 14th June 1961, 41.7% ABV
Nose: Sweet, honeyed, but intensely fragrant with rose petals, lavender, and a delicate spiciness
Taste: Beautifully deep with soft brown sugar, toffee and butterscotch with lingering spicy cinnamon notes
Finish: Floral, creamy vanilla and spice
1973 Aged 43 years – Cask 8556, European oak oloroso sherry butt, filled 7th June 1973, 46.6% ABV
Nose: Deep, oaky and rich with dried fruit, marmalade, and spicy ginger
Taste: Succulent spice followed by vanilla, dark chocolate, nuts and an earthy liquorice sweetness
Finish: Luscious balance of dried fruits and spice
1981 Aged 35 years – Cask 7824, refill American oak hogshead, filled 29th October 1981, 43.8% ABV
Nose: Malty, vanilla toffee and heather honey with notes of lemon zest
Taste: Maple sweetness, glazed pineapple and citrus with vanilla and cinnamon
Finish: Malty and sweet with layers of spice
1993 Aged 23 years – Cask 11621, refill American oak hogshead, filled 6th December 1993, 51.9% ABV
Nose: Fragrant, fruity and floral
Taste: Syrupy, toffee sweetness and honey balanced against soft oak vanilla
Finish: Delicate, sweet and fruity
2004 Aged 13 years – Cask 741, European oak oloroso sherry butt, filled 19th January 2004, 58.2% ABV
Nose: Rich with some orange peel against balanced oak tannins
Taste: Silky mouth feel, dark fruits and sherry characteristics. Subtle and spicy
Finish: Luxurious and honeyed with delicate spices and oak