Balvenie evening in Mumbai

Now I have to admit, this post is rather late… the event occurred many months ago in Mumbai at the St Regis – Aug 28, 2019 to be precise.

The occasion was sparked by the Mumbai visit of Gemma Paterson, Global Brand Ambassador for The Balvenie. We had visions of a very private evening with just a few tables, proper sit down tasting with interesting anecdotes and insights into The Balvenie distillery, its people, the whiskies. The usual masterclass format.

Nope! It was a complete jam of people, a mash up of inaudible stories and poetry, flute and was.. well… unexpected.

True – the cocktails flowed generously and one after another tasting glasses with different expressions of The Balvenie made their rounds but it was a far cry from being able to connect with someone close to the whisky makers, who is known for collecting stories or being able to truly focus on the whiskies.

Which is exactly why I have zero tasting notes, only a recollection we were partial to the 14 year…

Which is exactly why I dug up notes from some of our other Balvenie experiences as it would be a shame to miss insights into this distillery and its drams:

With such a crowd, the St Regis did a brilliant job with the food and keeping the throngs happy. But as a whisky event, I couldn’t even hear Gemma speak let alone meet and make some kind of connection. Which is ultimately for me what is terrific about the whisky fabric – the way different lives and experiences are woven together over exploring and enjoying a good dram.

On a more personal note, it was terrific to see so many familiar folks so close before my move to Germany. For that alone it was a good evening, so Slainthe!

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Red Casks – Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

Our original tasting group was in for a surprise! A special theme of unusual finishes, first sampled completely whisky blind without bias…

Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

  • Nose – Fruity, floral and distinctly ‘feni’-like, some citrus, distinctly ‘prickly’, syrup, salted cashews… as it settled down, started to reveal a nice oily aroma, a sweet and sour of khoya, strongly reminded us of a gulab jamun, toffee cream chocolate, spice… after the 1st sip, had a nice vanilla biscuit, retaining the gulab jamun chased by salted caramel, rum spiked honey water
  • Palate – Initially greeted us with a spicy ginger, salt then gentle tobacco, something of substance and a bit astringent, yet still heavy oils, chewy, butter biscuit, a good balance… if you the breathed it in were rewarded with khatta meetha  or sour sweet
  • Finish – A bitter pepper spice that sparked a debate – lingering with orange peel and almond or short yet balanced? I was in the camp that found after the initial oomph… the shadow of the finish remained
  • Water – After it initially sharpened the spice, it settled down to make this whisky more pleasant and mellow on the palate however didn’t reveal anything new

Overall we found the aromas quite volatile when freshly open, taking some time to settle down… and interesting.

There was loads of speculation… we didn’t think it was sherry cask but there was definitely something different going on. One member was clear it was rum, others not convinced.

And the reveal?

Well our rum speculator was spot on!

What did we try in our special “red” casks evening?

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The Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

Gotta love how whisky becomes a world traveller. This particular Balvenie started its life in Scotland with the usual approach but then was finished in ex-rum barrels from the Caribbean. Then made its way to Taiwan where it was purchased for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai, India.

What did we think? Read on!

Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43% (from Taiwan)

  • Nose – Lemon curd, caramel very spring-like, no question there was a rum influence, loads of rum raisins, dry fruits, nuts, chocolate, cloves, quite pronounced honeyed rum, after sipping and some time, it settled into something almost floral
  • Palate – Not as pushy on the palate as it is on the nose, toffee, mellow, then became a bit sour, then a lot more spice
  • Finish – Very sweet, ripe plums
  • Water – Don’t…. reduces it to flavoured water

Overall it was pronounced enjoyable. And while clearly part of the ‘standard stable’, the rum finish is a nice touch.

Here is what the folks at The Balvenie have to say:

  • NOSE Rich, sweet and creamy toffee on the nose combines with fresh fruit notes
  • TASTE Rounded with vanilla and sweet oak notes, with a fruity character that develops with time
  • FINISH Soft and lingering

Our core focus was a trio with a wee ‘appetizer’ blend:

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Whisky Live Singapore – Balvenie

I’m nearing the end of my Whisky Live Singaporespeed dates‘… I made zero attempt to get to all booths, instead I wandered, meandered, stopping where fancy struck. In a few cases, I planned to return but didn’t yet there was no regret… all that means is more to explore at the next one!

Next up is a wee nip of Balvenie…


I will admit to skipping over the 12 year and Caribbean Cask 14 year to go straight to the Doublewood 17 year.

2016-11-12-balvenie-17-yrThe DoubleWood 17 Year Old has a lovely honey vanilla nose, crisp orchard fruit, spicy,  toffee… in short lip smacking good!

And then Neil Strachan, Regional Brand Ambassador SouthEast Asia intervened with this secret little beauty…


Balvenie (1994/17 Nov 2015) 56.1% Cask No 4013

This was a dram savoured and enjoyed without scribbles… just because sometimes one just needs to stop and experience.


Other Balvenie’s sampled include:

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Balvenie Triple Cask 12 years 40%

From the whisky archives (Oct 2013) came an amusing evening which concluded the Balvenie Triple Cask was…

The guy who tries to be 1st in class, lovely to meet, some possibilities but…

So why did we think Balvenie Triple Cask was the smart kid in the class?

Read on…

Photo: The Whisky Exchange

Photo: The Whisky Exchange

Balvenie Triple Cask 12 year 40%

  • Colour – A rich golden hue, clearly not light straw but also not deep either
  • Nose – We found wiffs of currents, raisins, vanilla, orange, cinnamon even a bit of butterscotch. All pronounced to be very ‘christmasy’ in character and quite promising
  • Palate – Not as complex and nuanced as the notes would suggest. We found it lightly peated, with a peach sweetness.
  • Finish – Remained largely in the mouth, not complex, but still rather nice.

Most speculated it must be a younger speyside, around 40%, still a bit “green” yet didn’t detract from being quite a nice sipping whisky.

While most considered it too mild to add water, we gamely put in a few drops to see the results – only diluted the taste, shifting to a bit of harness yet still sweet. Our vote? Neat is best with this one!


Back in 2013, it was a new offering for the duty-free market – boasting (as the name suggests) maturation in three different casks: first-fill bourbon, refill bourbon and sherry.

Here’s what the folks over at Balvenie have to say:

Elegantly sweet and spicy, with a mellow taste of dried fruits, vanilla and cinnamon

Also sampled the same evening:

  • Wasmund’s – The bad boy you just wanna go a little wild with and can’t resist!
  • The Speyside – The guy you can count on, a companion. In short – the marrying type!

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