William Grant & Sons has announced it's adding the first core expression to The Balvenie range in five years.
The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years (2002 Vintage) is the product of trials undertaken by malt master David Stewart MBE and Ian Millar, former distillery manager and current prestige whiskies specialist at William Grant & Sons.
Why the name? The new release is a nod to a time when peated whiskies were commonly produced by distilleries across Speyside – including The Balvenie. Locally sourced peat was used from the 1930s to the 1950s to dry barley processed at the distillery’s traditional malt floor, which is still in use today.
Traditionally The Balvenie distillery has dedicated one week per year –Peat Week – to using only peated barley in its production.
'Being able to experiment with different elements of whisky making and stock management is one of the most exciting and important parts of my job,' Stewart MBE said.
'The new Peated Week bottling is a result of our continued efforts to innovate and trial flavours not typically associated with The Balvenie. The expression is testament to the freedom we enjoy as a family company, and shows The Balvenie in an unexpected way, yet still remaining true to the distillery style our drinkers enjoy.'
The Balvenie Peat Week (2002 Vintage) is a single-vintage bottling. Non-chill filtered and bottled at 48.3% abv, it will launch exclusively to the UK, USA, Denmark and Sweden in September.
The liquid was matured solely in American oak casks, which according to the distiller gives the final spirit a velvety and round taste, with the peat smoke balancing oaky vanilla and honey.
'When we first started the experiments it was an incredibly exciting time as very few Speyside distilleries were using peated malt in production,' Millar added. 'Along with cask type, there’s nothing quite like peat to change the flavour profile of a whisky, so it was great to have the chance to undertake these experiments and lay the foundations for future peated malts.'
Alwynne Gwilt, The Balvenie UK brand ambassador, commented that this release will be a wake-up call for anybody who thinks scotch is a staid category.
'Behind the scenes at whisky distilleries like ours, experiments are always going on and almost 15 years ago, we started exploring what it would be like to peat the malt that goes into our gorgeous honeyed liquid for one week each year,' Gwilt said. 'The result is something wonderful and will give The Balvenie lovers a chance to see this delicious whisky in a different light.'
48.3% abv, £60/700ml, William Grant & Sons, 020 8332 1188