Perfect Pairings IV – Balvenie

Epiphany – an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

What were you doing in 2015 on the first Thursday in December? In an age of isolation, can we even recall times when we enjoyed whisky in joyous company? 

Years ago, that frosty night forever etched itself in my mind. 

The site: New York’s Brandy Library, where owner Flavien Desoblin provided the fun then as he hopes to do in 2021. Spirits lovers know these events portend great learning that goes beyond a simple “good time”. For me, a Scotch surprise emerged as brand ambassador Gemma Patterson held court with samplings of Balvenie’s products.

Up to that point, while having tasted many single malts and blended whiskies, my reviewing career was only dawning. I wanted to create something more than letter grades or number ranks. As I tried each of the labels, I heard Gemma’s voice repeating a word in a constant stream: “Balanced”. 

The light bulb went on. If these whiskies appeal to folk who prefer flavors in symmetry, other brands might diverge; and that could be a helpful thing. This grew into the basis for my rating scale. 

Fast forward to a recent winter COVID-19 on-line tasting hosted by her heir, Naomi Leslie. No less an expert, she faced forty eager Zoomies who always demand a high level of skill and knowledge from such reps.

For me, I had an epiphany redux. For others, the magic revealed itself in layers of malt, lasting aromatic smoke and Naomi’s deft descriptions of Balvenie 12-, 14-, 21- and the 14-year Peat Week. She shared more than mere profiles, but spoke to the history and culture of her firm; traits that serve as the label’s bedrock.  

Throughout her session, she used the term “Balance” often. Plus ça change… 

Checkout the reviews for:

Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year
Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year
Balvenie Portwood 21 Year
Balvenie The Week of Peat 14 Year