Scottish whisky brand The Balvenie recently unveiled its two latest additions for The Balvenie Stories Collection – The Tale of the Dog (42-year-old and 46-year-old liquids) and The Creation of a Classic.
The new expressions, which debuted this month, are described as stories as told by the craftsmen at the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland, created to highlight and bring to life the many varied stories that come from a long-time distillery like The Balvenie.
The Tale of the Dog is depicted as a smooth, honeyed expression of The Balvenie that’s available now at global travel retail outlets. The distillers note that the 46-year-old variation is rich where spice and subtle hints of licorice are met with dashes of bergamot. On the nose, it offers aromas and flavors reminiscent of roasted red currants and treacle, with hints of eucalyptus and menthol from the toasted oak. It tastes of silky honey and toffee sweetness.
Distiller’s notes show the 42-year-old domestic release offers a sweet fragrance of ripe dates with hints of toffee, and notes of geranium oil and a subtle mint musk. The dates and toffee coat the mouth in a light nutty spice with toasted oak flavors.
David Wilson, managing director for global travel, said in a prepared statement The Balvenie “Tale of the Dog” release is beyond its rarity as a single cask offering. “Our Malt Master David Stewart and Apprentice Malt Master Kelsey McKechnie selected this exceptional cask paying homage to our long-serving coppersmith Dennis McBain and his tireless service while revealing a little secret found within our distillery.”
“The Creation of a Classic,” meanwhile celebrates the story of The Balvenie’s malt master – the longest serving malt master in the industry – David Stewart, who pioneered the first cask-finished whisky in 1983, The Balvenie Classic.
It was created by transferring Balvenie whisky matured in traditional oak barrels to sweet Oloroso sherry casks. This new expression in The Balvenie Stories range showcases the same process – the choice of wood, the warehousing, the testing and tasting all playing a part in its success.
Stewart said the distillery is built on stories. “It’s what sets us apart and makes our whisky what it is. Each expression in the Stories range has a distinct narrative as to how it came to be, and each whisky tells its unique tale in liquid form through first-hand recollections of the many characters involved.”
Stewart explained that the story behind “The Tale of the Dog” was inspired by the memories of Dennis McBain, a long-time coppersmith at The Balvenie Distillery.
As a young apprentice, fresh to the world of whisky-making, Dennis was asked by a brewer for a copper dog, which he soon discovered was a little copper tube used for secretly siphoning off whisky from the cask.
The copper dog would then be flattened and put back for its owner to be found as a way of calling out the illicit activity. Expressions such as “taking the dog for a walk” became common at the distillery, with whomever the copper dog had been sent to understanding full well that he’d been discovered but given a second chance.
This recollection went on to inspire McBain’s suggestion of using dogs instead of unwieldy valinches for distillery tour tastings, a protocol which remains today.
Storytelling like this is carried through The Tale of the Dog, with its tale depicted on the whisky’s packaging. The bottle is presented with a replica, flattened copper dog and encased in a wooden tube wrapped in leather, printed with a bespoke illustration, specific to the liquid, from British artist and printmaker Andy Lovell.
Whisky enthusiasts can hear the story of The Tale of the Dog and The Creation of a Classic through a specially recorded podcast series, featuring the craftspeople behind the expression, as well as The Balvenie Global Ambassador Gemma Paterson. This podcast will be available through Spotify and iTunes and via a QR code tag inside the pack, that consumers can scan using their smartphones.
The Tale of the Dog 46-year-old is available in 10 exclusive Travel Retail locations, with a suggested retail price of £16,500. Only 34 bottles, drawn from a single cask, will be available.
The Balvenie Creation of a Classic, suggested retail of £57, is now exclusively available in Global Travel Retail in select markets.
The Balvenie Stories distiller’s notes:
Tale of the Dog – aged 46 Years – 54.7% ABV
- Nose: Rich, with flavors reminiscent of roasted red currants and treacle, wrapped in aromas of eucalyptus and menthol from toasted oak.
- Taste: Spice and subtle hints of licorice are soon met with dashes of bergamot. This richness soon surpasses to reveal silky honey and toffee sweetness.
- Finish: Long lasting, smooth sweetness.
The Creation of a Classic – No Age Statement – 43% ABV
- Nose: Aromatic and lively, aromas of vanilla and spice evocative of dried clove and chai are layered on a base of earthly, malty undertones reminiscent of Balvenie’s own barley loft.
- Taste: A perfect complement of light oatmeal syrupiness and brittle toffee are followed by delicate hints of spice and a rich drying sensation from European oak.
- Finish: Lingering, lasting dry oak.
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