The Balvenie are large and successful enough to not only keep their full stock of standard offerings in full swing, they’re also keen on playing with all the elements available in whisky production to create more limited offerings. The Balvenie 14 Year Peat Week is so named because the distillery has apparently been distilling peated whisky since 2002 for one week a year. Hitching their cart to the transparency train, Balvenie does a brilliant job of listing exactly what week in any given year this scotch was distilled during, along with some particulars about how peat characteristics are imparted to whisky in general. While not part of their standard lineup, it appears that Balvenie is poised to make this scotch a regular or semi-regular offering, even if only ever in limited quantities.
Age: 14 years
Maturation: American oak casks
Nose: Orange marmalade, smoke, cinnamon, peat, vanilla
Palate: Citrus, peat, cream
Finish: Smoke, peat
Adam – This much I know: I like it. There’s a delight in detecting the barley and burn of the quintessential Balvenie spirit, dressed this time in the clothes of a peaty neighbor. Those nose has great fruit and spice mixed delightfully with some peat smoke. It gets even better once you taste, as the citrus tells a story that finishes in creamy smoke. It’s not the most layered or complex of scotches, but I feel the elements it does have are balanced expertly, even more difficult given the sometimes delicate nature of Speyside whiskies to more dominant flavor influences. Make no mistake, this Balvenie 14 Year Peat Week is not an Islay or Highland peaty scotch; rather, this is an earthy dram that dances and swirls, pairing neatly with the robust flavors Balvenie is known for to render something respectably new.
Meghan – This is kind of a compromise scotch: you get a lot of great aspects of multiple things, but lose a bit of each as well. There is a nice level of peat (with a definite different taste and mouthfeel of Islay peat) with a touch of smoke. Then, there is also the fresh field, grassy sweetness that goes with a lot of Highlands. There is nowhere near as much smoke as one would get with a truly peaty, smoky scotch. Nor is there the full brightness of sun-kissed lands that I love in a Highland whisky. But, the Peat Week has made a good compromise. The nose is more detailed than the palate or finish, with a smell of orange marmalade on a fresh scone that would make Paddington Bear swoon. The palate is more like lemon pie eaten within range of a peat fire. Yes- that sounds a bit odd and although I enjoy the whisky, I’m not sure on the pie with peat either. However, the palate is a nice and light peat smoke finish. It lingers but remains light. Some more heavily peated scotches have a finish that fills your chest and lets you imagine you are breathing fire. This is a much gentler exhale of smoke that hangs around just long enough to remind you, “yes, I had some scotch. And yes, I’d like another taste of that dram now.”
Michael – I really like this. It doesn’t set itself apart for me like some scotches do. It’s very pleasant. I think I come in with certain expectations after reading the title, but it does a good job integrating peat into the larger story. I like it, it’s a very good scotch.
Mary-Fred – It’s interesting because you have that peat but an overtone of vanilla that balances it out. Almost like a cherry vanilla or kirsch.
Peter – It wasn’t too much but it was just right. This is the way peaty scotch should be. This Balvenie 14 Year Peat Week lulls you along for a while.
Caitlin – Every time I smell it, I have this image of summer, with white curtains around an open window and a breeze. It’s like sunshine and flowers that are blooming and maybe a tiny bit of furniture polish. It’s my favorite peaty scotch so far.
Ben – Abstractly, it smells like change, with a highlight of what’s beginning rather than what’s ending. One of the things I smell is like you’re going for a hike at the beginning of fall, end of winter and you take a deep breath, that’s the nose. And it’s when you’re on that hike and you stop and you are compelled to stop and take a deeper breath. It smells like one of the best hikes you’ve ever taken. It’s incredibly balanced. The Balvenie 14 Year Peat Week includes everything I like about peaty scotches.