The Balvenie Stories is Balvenie’s latest concept craft-themed series of whiskies.
The distillery, which has consistently shown a deft hand in positioning itself as an entity that values the esoteric side of whisky, namely craft and stories, has come up with a range of whiskies that brings to fore the very human nature in how the whiskies come about.
At the risk of undercutting the tone here, it’s essentially embracing craft and mistakes, twists and turns, evolving and overcoming, and underlying how, at the heart of the spirit, the whisky is underpinned by the stories of the people behind the whisky. But then again, almost every Tarantino flick has pretty much the same elements, every Tom Cruise movie has the same hero’s journey, and every M Night Shyamalan… you get the idea. Ultimately, it comes down to how well you tell them stories.
“The Balvenie Distillery is built on stories – they are our lifeblood,” said Gemma Paterson, The Balvenie Global Brand Ambassador. “In today’s increasingly automated world, it’s our craftspeople’s pursuit, passion and endeavour that makes our liquid so unique. The Balvenie Stories collection lets us celebrate storytelling in all forms – from our distillery, Speyside and all across the world. We’re delighted to be partnering with some of the world’s best storytellers to bring this to life and look forward to sharing this unique collection of untold tales – the perfect accompaniment to a dram of our whisky.”
As Gemma alluded, the launch of The Balvenie Stories is supported by a collection of short stories exploring what it is to have, and pursue, a goal or a dream. Edited by award-winning author and journalist Alex Preston, Pursuit – The Balvenie Stories Collection is a series of fiction and non-fiction stories written by celebrated authors like Lawrence Osbourne, Yan Ge and closer to home, acclaimed Malaysian novelist Tash Aw. Even The Balvenie Stories packaging – tube and label – is a reflection of the stories as interpreted by British artist and printmaker Andy Lovell.
James Cordiner and Ross Blainey, The Balvenie Brand Ambassadors for Southeast Asia and Australia respectively, gave a teaser of the experience, roping in Charles Tan of FATCAT Ice Cream Bar for some wonderfully creative treats and Vishaal Raj to set the tone with the music and The General Co for the visuals. To be fair, that’s a little over the top to set up for a casual drink, but we can always listen to the stories via an NFC-enabled tag embedded into the bottles. While James and Ross won’t be there to serenade you, Gemma and the craftspeople involved will. Not only that, you get to experience a guided audio-tasting of each expression with The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart and Apprentice Malt Master, Kelsey McKechnie, for good measure. The recordings for The Week of Peat and A Day of Dark Barley can also be accessed online.
“At The Balvenie, we believe that each whisky tells a story based on the men and woman that have been involved in every part of the process from growing and malting the barley to crafting the casks that the whiskies sleep and mature in. The Balvenie Stories collection is a unique and special way for us to offer whisky drinkers an exclusive look into the craft and craftspeople behind our whiskies. Aside from the new, limited-release liquids to enjoy, we are also glad to be able to bring whisky enthusiasts something they can also enjoy outside the glass,” said James Cordiner, The Balvenie Brand Ambassador, Southeast Asia.
Distillery manager ordered a batch Speyside peat after a trip to Islay with the intention to experiment with The Balvenie profile. So henceforth, for a week a year, a batch of peated malt will be distilled, and only for a week. The result is the familiar Balvenie profile with an ashen smokiness. Maybe it’s just me but the citrus seems a little more prominent here.
This has actually sort of appeared before 12 years ago as a 14-year-old Roasted Malt, and this is from the same batch, albeit much older. It’s from an experiment with a batch of dark roasted malt barley that’s usually used in stout and this bottle marks the 26-year point of the experiment. The oaky spice is perhaps the most distinctive feature of this malt, which is not something you get often in whisky, let alone a Balvenie.
The Week of Peat (14-year-old) and A Day of Dark Barley (26-year-old) from The Balvenie Stories collection are now available at various bars and retail outlets including Cooperage, LMDW, Malts, Straits Clan, The Connoisseur Divan, The Joint, The Wall, The Winery (A Week of Peat only), Tipple & Dram, 1855 and 75CL.