Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Balvenie. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The Balvenie is a perfect example of a classic Scotch distillery. They opened in 1892 as one of William Grant’s distilleries, and have been able to remain open since then. They employed all of the classic methods employed by the standard distillery at the time: growing raw ingredients, performing floor maltings, and building their own casks, among other practices.
What makes them different is that they still do many of those things today. The distillery calls this their “five rare crafts” – those traditional techniques that now set them apart. These crafts are as follows: the barley, malting floors, copper stills, the cooperage, and a master of malt. These particular attentions are the heart and soul of the distillery.
Barley, the base of the entire whisky, is more often sourced these days than grown on individual distillery farms. Balvenie, however, grows their barley on Balvenie Mains, the same farm they have since the beginning. Some of that barley is then malted on-premises, another rare craft in a country with few malting floors left. That malting floor is not the same as the original, however, having been replaced in 1929.
The Malt Master, of course, is fundamental to the entire process. Balvenie employs David C. Stewart, the longest serving Malt Master in Scotland. After the distillate comes through the classic “Balvenie Ball” copper still, Stewart directs the aging process. He makes the call on which casks are bottled at which point. Said casks are given the highest standard of care and treatment due to the onsite cooperage.
It took 18 of those casks to create the eighth batch of the Tun 1509 series. The Tun series are so named for their being aged in a tun – a very large cask, which holds roughly 252 gallons. Only special casks are chosen to be married in the Tun series process. After the whiskies are married, they’re aged another 3 months altogether, specifically in Warehouse 24.
The Tun series is made to be an exceptional whisky, the culmination of exceptional whiskies. In my experience, they have had great success in this. This expression is no exception.
Tasting Notes: Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 8
Vital Stats: 104.4 Proof, 52.2% ABV, 750ml, $410
Appearance: Translucent ochre. Many droplets at the top of the swirl, with few, thin legs running down.
Nose: Fresh hay and alfalfa lead off with a warm and grassy sweetness and a touch of soapiness. They almost immediately amp up into the heady sweetness of toffee. After a bit of warming up time cocoa butter comes through. A touch of coriander pops up at the end.
Palate: There’s a warmth right up front that wasn’t suggested by the nose. Texture here is very light. This whole sip is very sweet, in varying ways. The start has the lightness of honey. A bit of cocoa and baking spice remain sweet, but with more depth. Some fresh berry and graham cracker lighten up again at the back palate.
There’s not much more to say here than this is another phenomenal whisky from the Tun series. I was taken by the sweetness, which remained complex but also very light and lovely. No point of the sip falls off, and the flavor at finish is as strong as the start.
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Talia is part of the Portland service industry community, and an alumna of the Multnomah Whiskey Library. She’s an avid spirit and cocktail enthusiast, and likes to experience them both academically and recreationally. When not sipping whiskey she’s a ceramic artist and lover of travel.