New Whiskies

Batch 10: Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 1

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Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter One

A special batch of tasting notes from Chief Engineer Dave Broom to mark the release of Chapter One of Balvenie's DCS Compendium: five single cask single malts marking the distinguished career of David Charles Stewart, Balvenie malt master. This first batch is designed to illustrate the theme of 'Distillery Style'.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Balvenie DCS Compendium 2005 Aged 9 Years

    Score 6.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Balvenie DCS Compendium 2005 Aged 9 Years
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Fresh, sweet, almost sugared fruits. Some white peach, with a hint of dry grass behind. Runny honey on hot pancakes, then stamp glue, hazelnut oil and the wonderful aroma of fresh emulsion paint.
    Palate
    Rounded and gentle, with some apricot and a light prickle when neat. Citrus and clover honey give it a depth and slowness of character which is very Balvenie.
    Finish
    Light acidity when neat. Fresh lemon and honey with water.
    Conclusion
    A lovely Balvenie, but it’s never £400 of lovely. Sadly, it’s the price of this bottle which will get the attention, rather than the overall concept.
    Right place, right time
    A day in the life of the Queen (who believes the world smells of fresh paint, eats honey every day and still licks the back of her own head).

    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1997 Aged 17 Years

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1997 Aged 17 Years
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    60.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Fruity and elegant, moving into rich honey and heavy citrus (making tangerine marmalade), then a little touch of trifle, banana, fresh tropical fruits and cling (tinned) peaches before a drying – and balancing – element of blond tobacco and some linseed. With water, dry Oolong tea leaves.
    Palate
    Sweet and deep. The honey now takes on the form of baklava with an added density. There’s an almost thick, vinous quality – old Savennières? – and in time everything becomes increasingly perfumed and heady.
    Finish
    As it dries, some subtle spices emerge alongside runny toffee.
    Conclusion
    Has that extra layer of complexity which separates the great from the very good. An awesome Balvenie but, again, steep for an individual bottle. I can understand selling this as a set – it would justify the price – but when you sell each bottle individually, you change the concept… and the focus.
    Right place, right time
    Relaxing with the lotus eaters.

    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1985 Aged 30 Years

    Score 7.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1985 Aged 30 Years
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Sweet and gentle. More poised than the ’97. Some floral notes now begin to show themselves, as well as the undertow of sweet cereal which is apparent in all the bottlings. Acacia honey and nuts, praline, then candied orange peel and hard butterscotch toffee (McCowan’s – can you still get these?).
    Palate
    Huge, ripe, almost sticky, and deep with elements of spiced honey, cinnamon and a taste of orange Spangles (can you still get Spangles?), and then fresh almond. In time, a lovely oxidative nuttiness. Excellent balance.
    Finish
    Smooth with a light malty note.
    Conclusion
    This is Balvenie in gentle guise.
    Right place, right time
    Time travelling to a land of lost sweets.

    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1978 Aged 37 Years

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1978 Aged 37 Years
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Layered and luscious. The biggest expression in the range, showing the most influence from the cask – though it is far from woody. Massive, generous, all-enveloping notes of clotted cream, Greek yoghurt with honey, then comes butterscotch Angel Delight, moving into barley sugar and Beaumes de Venise. Then has a fresh lift, like candied grapefruit.
    Palate
    More creamy toffee, but also some sweet barley – the sensation of the malting floor – before the exotic fruits begin to build. There’s distinct waxy honeycomb on show in this luscious palate.
    Finish
    A hint of chocolate.
    Conclusion
    Though there is light oak, this remains all about the distillery. A great single cask.
    Right place, right time
    Breaking into Winnie the Pooh’s secret honey stash and stealing a little smackerel.

    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1968 Aged 46 Years

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Balvenie DCS Compendium 1968 Aged 46 Years
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    This is a fascinating one, which manages to be both welcoming and restrained. Almost Cognac-style fruitiness, fennel pollen, faded florals (pot-pourri). Its age is borne well and elegantly. More precise than the ’78, it has an almost sepia-toned quality to it. With a drop of water, some amaretto. The honey remains, but now it is the dried flowers and gentle fruits which are coming through. Mature. Fascinating.
    Palate
    The immediacy and intensity of the tropical fruit come as a surprise after such a refined nose. The texture is slightly fragile, there’s a hint of smoke, a touch of Parma Violet before a delicate, perfumed (and pleasing) soapy element comes along.
    Finish
    The flavours seem to fade, but somehow then persist – an echo of time.
    Conclusion
    This has the classic purity of character which you only get from a whisky which has been given very relaxed, long maturation in refill casks. A magnificent old Balvenie. I was still tasting this an hour after the last swallow.
    Right place, right time
    Reading the opening to ‘Under Milk Wood’: 'Time… passes. Listen. Time passes.'
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