The Balvenie unveils trio of whisky ‘Stories’

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Speyside distillery The Balvenie has launched its new Stories range, a collection of three single malt whiskies inspired by tales of character, endeavour and craft.

The collection comprises of The Sweet Toast of American Oak (43% ABV), The Week of Peat (48.3% ABV) and A Day of Dark Barley (47.8% ABV).

Aged for 12 years, The Sweet Toast of American Oak tells a story of the spectacular things that can happen when ancient technique meets fresh ideas.

To create the expression, newly appointed apprentice malt master Kelsey McKechnie experimented with twice-toasted white American oak from Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky to produce “an even fruitier, sweeter tasting” Balvenie.

An evolution of The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years, which launched globally in 2017, The Week of Peat expression tells the tale of malt master David Stewart MBE and former distillery manager Ian Millar utilising a week’s gap in the distillery’s production schedule to experiment with the use of peat in the barley drying process.

The result is a “classic” Balvenie expression with notes of honey, vanilla, citrus and “an extra layer of delicate smokiness”.

Making up the Stories trio is A Day of Dark Barley. The expression has been aged for 26 years, and presents the story of David and The Balvenie’s malt men experimenting with a heavily roasted dark barley in 1992.

The liquid was originally released in 2006 as the 14-Year-Old Balvenie Roasted Malt, however casks were retained for extra maturation, eventually becoming a classic aged Balvenie, but with “extra depth and oak notes gleaned from the darker malt”.

David said: “Stories are the lifeblood of The Balvenie distillery. They make up the fabric of who we are and what we do.

“The Balvenie Stories collection tells these tales in liquid form, giving whisky drinkers across the globe a special glimpse into the unique and very human nature of how we produce our whisky.

“Each expression in the collection reflects this by telling its own story via first-hand accounts and recollections of the many people involved.”

Alwynne Gwilt & Kelsey McKechnie

The Balvenie brand ambassador Alwynne Gwilt and apprentice malt master Kelsey McKechnie

Drinkers will have the opportunity to hear these stories in full, as told by the characters themselves, via audio conversations recorded between them and The Balvenie Global Ambassador, Gemma Paterson.

This audio content, as well as guided audio whisky tastings of each expression with David Stewart and Kelsey McKechnie, is available via an NFC-enabled neck tag, that people connect to using their smartphones. This was designed in partnership with connected product solutions company Thinfilm.

The notion of storytelling informs the design of The Balvenie Stories packaging too, with each tale represented visually on the whisky’s tube and label in bespoke illustrations from British artist and printmaker Andy Lovell.

An accompanying book titled Pursuit – The Balvenie Stories Collection, will be released in the autumn, featuring a series of fiction and non-fiction short stories from renowned writers, including Lawrence Osbourne and Max Porter.

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