Today I’ll be looking at the Balvenie 14-year-old Caribbean Cask. It has since replaced the Cuban Selection, perhaps to allow it to be sold here in the US. It is as the name may imply finished in a Caribbean Rum Cask. Balvenie tend to really like finishing their whiskies as a lot of their one-offs are usually finished in a certain type of barrel. While finishing whisky can seem a bit gimmicky at times, what I do like is for the most part Balvenie will give an age statement along with the type of cask used. I think Balvenie’s transparency is something they should be proud of and other distilleries would be smart in adopting similar policies. This Balvenie though is not a one-off but rather part of its core range of whiskies. It’s been matured, I believe, for 14 years in American oak casks then finished in rum casks for about 8-10 months.

Type: SIngle Malt     Region: Speyside

ABV: 43%     Color: Amber +1     Body: Med

Nose: Get some wood varnish initially and some other typical rum-like notes. Somewhat fruity and sweet with bananas, cherries, pineapple, touches coconut. The sweeter vanillas, caramels, rum cake(Tortuga) and sugar cane become more prevalent the more it opens up. There is a slight off-putting paint thinner aroma as well. Everything I would expect from a rum finished malt. Not much change with water.

Palate: Butterscotch and maple syrup sweetness up front. Then a mix of vanilla and milk chocolate. I’m find this a lot more sweeter and less fruitier then the last time I had this. I am still getting the banana and coconut though. Some oak at play going into the finish along with the rum and delicious rum cake and a leafy-tobacco like note as well.

Finish: Grapefruit, dark chocolate, honey, espresso and tobacco. It’s medium to long in length.

Overall: I’ve never been to thrilled about this particular Balvenie. I’ve always felt the bouquet was somewhat boring, to be honest but I realized that this is a shy whisky and doesn’t want to open up and show what it has to offer right away. Water does little to open this whisky up and what I’ve learned is this particular whisky needs time. A lot of time. I have a spirit aerator, which I don’t really use that often, but this is one whisky that needs to aerated. If not then I’d say pour yourself a dram and let it sit about an hr. Once this whisky is open it’s like night and day. It’s still not a very aromatic whisky and one that doesn’t lend itself to well to deep nosing but the palate is rich and creamy and this finish rather good.

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