The Balvenie Stories Scotch Whiskies Tell Tales Of Whisky Craftsmen

The Balvenie brand of Scotch whisky is one that long history to it, dating back to 1886 when it was founded by William Grant. It is a distillery that has a lot of stories to tell, particularly those of the craftspeople who’ve worked there over time producing high quality single malts. As part of telling their tales a new bottling series has been unveiled.

The new The Balvenie Stories range, according to those behind it, consists of three expressions that are each tied to a particular person at the distillery and their tale. The offerings are more thoroughly outlined at the end of this article, but in general they celebrate “Apprentice Malt Master Kelsey McKechnie using Kentucky Virgin oak to make a fruitier Balvenie, former distillery manager Ian Millar introducing smoke from Speyside peat [and] Malt Master David Stewart MBE using an unusually brittle barley.” How this is done is that audio conversations were recorded with each at the locations featured in each story, and this audio content, as well as guided audio whisky tastings of each expression, is available via an NFC-enabled neck tag that people connect to using their smartphones.

The Balvenie Stories range

The Balvenie Stories range (image via The Balvenie)

“Stories are the lifeblood of The Balvenie distillery,” said The Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart MBE, in a prepared statement. “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.”

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It is said the notion of story 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. His work will be joined this fall by the launch of a book from the distillery called Pursuit – The Balvenie Stories Collection. It will contain a series of fiction and non-fiction short stories, by renowned writers from around the world.

The Scotches of the The Balvenie Stories collection are all at retail now, and, as stated before, you’ll find more information on each below.

  • The Sweet Toast of American Oak – Aged 12 Years – 43% ABV 
    • This is the story of the spectacular things that can happen when ancient technique meets fresh ideas, as 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.
    • Price: £45 (around $60 USD)
    • Nose: Lusciously malty with some sweet fudge, followed by citrusy and oak vanilla aromas with layers of spicy oak notes of ginger and cinnamon.
    • Taste: Candied orange and lemon peel, vanilla toffee and butterscotch, layers of blossom honey, some melted brown sugar and oak spices at the end.
    • Finish: Rich and malty with gentle waves of oak vanilla and subtle spices.
  • The Week of Peat – Aged 14 Years – 48.3% ABV 
    • An evolution of The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years, which launched globally in 2017. This expression tells the tale of Malt Master David Stewart MBE and former distillery manager Ian Millar using 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 honey, vanilla and citrus notes with an extra layer of delicate smokiness.
    • Price: £65 (around $85 USD)
    • Nose: Gentle sweet peat smoke, lighter floral notes and delicate butterscotch honey.
    • Taste: Velvety and round to taste with the peat smoke balancing citrus flavours, oaky vanilla and blossom honey.
    • Finish: Gentle smoke with a lingering and creamy vanilla sweetness.
  • A Day of Dark Barley – Aged 26 Years – 47.8% ABV
    • The story of Malt Master David Stewart MBE and The Balvenie’s malt men experimenting with a heavily roasted dark barley in 1992. The resulting 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.
    • Price: £600 (around $765 USD)
    • Nose: Big malty notes, soft brown sugar, vanilla toffee, blossom honey and a mild oaky spiciness.
    • Taste: Syrupy with a toffee sweetness, some citrusy notes of tangy orange peel, followed by oak vanilla and a touch of cinnamon and ginger spices at the end.
    • Finish: Enduring gentle waves of vanilla and oak spices.