Balvenie

The Balvenie 14 Years Old 2003 Peat Week (48.3%, OB, 2018)

Balvenie Peat Week 14 Years Old 2003

Whisky Review

  • Category: Speyside single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: Balvenie distillery
  • Bottling: OB
  • ABV: 48.3%
  • Cost: £59.95

balvenie-peat-week-aged-14-year-old-2003-vintage-whisky

What they say

The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years (2003 Vintage) is the result of trials undertaken in 2001 by The Balvenie Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE and our former distillery manager Ian Millar.

At a time when few Speyside distilleries were using peat in production, The Balvenie decided to distil a batch of heavily peated malt, which was laid down to mature at the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland.

Ever since then we’ve dedicated one week each year, named Peat Week, to using 100% Highland peat to dry our barley. Instead of coastal elements of iodine, salt and medicinal characteristics so commonly associated with Islay peat, Highland peat imparts earthy, woody smoke notes. This means that even though Peat Week is made using heavily peated malt (30ppm) it has an unexpected sweetness deeply rooted in the Speyside regional character. 

The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years (2003 Vintage) is a single vintage bottling, limited and rare by nature. This non-chill filtered expression is bottled at 48.3% ABV and matured solely in American Oak casks, providing a velvety and round taste with woody peat smoke balancing oaky vanilla and honey.

Official tasting notes:

  • NOSE Gentle sweet peat smoke with some lighter floral notes and delicate butterscotch honey.
  • TASTE Velvety and round to taste with the peat smoke balancing citrus flavours, oaky vanilla and blossom honey.
  • FINISH Gentle smoke with a lingering and creamy vanilla sweetness.
  • What I say

    Door #12 of the Drinks by the dram Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar.

    Having previously sampled the inaugural 2002 release I was slightly underwhelmed by Balvenie’s Peat Week expression, it didn’t feel very coherent to me at the time.

    This expression is distilled from peated malted barley at the Balvenie distillery and matured in ex-American oak casks for a minimum of 14 years. Due to the batch nature of pot distilling whisky the distillery switches over to peated malt for a single week of the year, after which all the equipment requires cleaning, usually during the ‘silent season’ to remove all traces of the peat influence before they return to distilling from their usual malted barley.

    My tasting notes:

    • Appearance: Antique gold (7/20), fine tears, very fine legs.
    • Nose: Peaty and honeyed, a touch milky and lactic, cereal barley malt, floral and smokey and plenty of estery ripe bananas.
    • Taste: Sweet and smoky on the palate, estery bananas, muskovado sugar, smoked and earthy peat, medium-bodied, this 2003 edition is much sweeter and more well-integrated than the previous 2002 edition, some woody oak and faintly nutty – peanut brittle flavours too on reflux.
    • Finish: Long, smoked and sweet, mashed banana in brown sugar then bbq’d.

    Overall

    A superbly smokey and sweet Balvenie with a great malty backbone to support it.

    Score 86/100

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