Halia at Raffles Hotel in Singapore last week played host to whisky royalty as The Balvenie‘s global brand ambassador Sam Simmons swung into town to share the virtues of his distillery’s iconic single malt Scotch whiskies.
The Balvenie – yes, it’s ‘The Balvenie’ and not just Balvenie – has a whisky-making heritage that goes all the way back to 1893 when the Speyside distillery produced its first spirit. “The quality of The Balvenie Single Malt is attributable to the craftsmanship retained by the distillery,” shared Simmons. “Indeed The Balvenie distillery is the only one to incorporate all 5 rare crafts and the demonstration of artisanal craftsmanship encapsulates how traditional techniques are still absolutely necessary in the modern age.”
The distillery – based on the grounds of what used to be Balvenie Castle in Dufftown, right in the heart of Speyside – still retains its handcrafting traditions, from the centuries-old method of floor malting – where barley is continually and manually tossed as it germinates and convert from starch into sugars – to having its own coppersmiths and coopers to look after its stills and casks. It all sounds like incredibly hard work, but the liquid produced by The Balvenie is worth all that effort.
A specially-designed cocktail made with The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old, vanilla and soda water was introduced at the start of the evening, but one should not really mess with a single malt – however young – that way. In any case the stars of the show were fine as they were – aside from DoubleWood 12 Year Old, guests were encouraged to titillate their palates with other expressions from The Balvenie range such as the Single Barrel 15 Year Old, Peated Cask 17 Year Old as well as the PortWood 21 Year Old.
The DoubleWood 12 Year Old, unhindered by the trappings of a cocktail and taken with just a splash of water, displayed nutty and spicy notes on the palate, with a tinge of honeyed sweetness that is most characteristic of The Balvenie. The Single Barrel 15 Year Old was more complex yet refrained, with the oak profile balances out much of the alcohol’s burn. It also interesting paired extremely well with the wild mushroom risotto served that evening.
The Peated Cask 17 Year Old was perhaps the most distinctive, its lightly smoked and peated character relatively uncommon in Speyside and far more reminiscent of its brothers from Islay. The Portwood 21 Year Old, on the other hand, shows off David Stewart’s – The Balvenie’s master of malt and its longest serving – blending expertise that has helped define the characteristics of The Balvenie whisky for over 50 years. Remarkably silky smooth, the fruity notes imparted by the port casks is accentuated by a most pleasant honey and spice finish.
It’s just too bad we didn’t have the chance to try expressions from The Balvenie’s Triple Cask or Tun 1401 ranges, but that’s just another reason to welcome The Balvenie’s global brand ambassador Sam Simmons back to Singapore.
This article was first contributed to and published in Cosmone.com.