Speyside distillery, The Balvenie, has launched the eagerly awaited fifth edition in its Tun 1401 series. The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 5 has been carefully crafted by the brand’s malt master, David Stewart (who celebrates his 50th year with the company later this year) using barrels aged between 46 and 21 years. ‘I’m very lucky to work for a family business,’ he said at the launch, ‘it means that we can hang on to barrels for many years, there’s no demand that everything be used at once.’,p> This newest expression was launched at The Savoy, with brand ambassador Andrew Forrester explaining that the location was selected as it has one big thing in common with The Balvenie: ‘The Balvenie is a handcrafted spirit, we have a cooperage, a malting and a coppersmith all on-site, to make sure that we produce the best product. Similarly, the recent £230m renovation of The Savoy saw specialist-craftsmen called tasked with perfecting every detail, so the end result was as good as it could possibly be.’
There are only 200 cases of The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 5 being released across the UK and the rest of Europe, only the second to be sold in these markets. Batch 1 was sold exclusively from the distillery, Batch 3 was available in the US and Batch 4 was solely distributed to travel retail outlets.
The liquid is comprised of barrels specially selected by Stewart, five of which had been matured in traditional whisky casks and four from sherry butts, which were all transferred to the oak tun 1401 and left to marry for a number of months, ‘Batch 6 is in there as we speak,’ Stewart explained.
The whisky is bottled at cask strength (an impressive 50.1% abv) but is remarkably smooth on the nose and palate. There are rich honeyed notes and a hint of smoke ‘Reflecting the smokier style The Balvenie favoured in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when some of the casks we used in Batch 5 would have been filled,’ Stewart acknowledged. There are also suggestions of black cherry, dried figs and ginger accompanied by a rich mouthfeel and a long, satisfying finish.