The Balvenie is launching a stunning range of whiskies... including a 55yo

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

25 October 2017

The Balvenie has explored one of the trickiest and most secretive aspects of whisky production in its latest collection from the ultra-luxe DCS Compendium series, and the resulting whiskies are humdingers.

Malt master David Stewart has worked at The Balvenie for 55 years
Malt master David Stewart has worked at The Balvenie for 55 years

Focusing on whisky stock management – the ability to predict demand for your product years, and even decades, in advance – Chapter 3 of the DCS Compendium is a collection of five single-cask bottles charting the distillery’s history over the last 55 years, since The Balvenie malt master David Stewart started working with the company.

'We’re very lucky to have had David behind the scenes for 55 years,' The Balvenie brand ambassador Alwynne Gwilt tells Imbibe. 'David started in stock management when he was 17 years old. He started so young and grew with the company. In 1974 at the age of 29 he was put in charge of the distillery for an interim period, but in that time the Grant family realised how much he knew, as well as how good his nose was, so he stayed in the role.'

The drinks industry is currently feeling the effects of poor stock predictions by most whisky producers in the 1980s, when demand was in the doldrums and companies subsequently reduced their output, not realising that demand would skyrocket in the millennium. These poor predictions are manifesting in the disappearance of products with age statements, only to be replaced by non-age-statement whisky.

Stewart, however, bucked this trend. 'We pretty much overproduced every year, even in the downturn of the 1980s,' explains Gwilt. 'The family has allowed David to produce as much as he wanted, and having him [for such a long time] means that we’ve been able to have consistency. We’re confident that we’ve got some of the biggest collections of matured stocks of all the Scotch whisky distilleries.'

This is the third chapter in The Balvenie’s DCS Compendium series, which as Gwilt describes, 'is really David putting down his knowledge in liquid form. This is his expertise summed up in 25 bottles'.

The first chapter explored distillery style, while the second looked at the influence of oak. This latest chapter, outlined here, picks key moments in the distillery’s stock management history.

Keen bean collectors can buy the entire third chapter for the princely sum of £57,000, however it will be possible to buy the bottles separately for those who’d like at least a scrap of this liquid history.

William Grant & Sons, 01698 843843

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