I started my libatious life drinking vodka and rum only, mainly because that’s what all the other 18-year old …ahem 21-year-old young women were drinking.   As I grew older and started bartending, I began an appreciation for dark liquors such as whiskey and cognac.  All of my friends know my favorite at the moment is Crown Royal Apple.  Last week a friend invited me to a Balvenie Whiskey Tasting at the the American Craft Council Show. I’d never heard of Balvenie Whiskey, but I learned a lot from the 45-minute tasting.

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We arrived at the craft show around 6:15 pm. and went directly to the tasting booth.  There were four tastings that day and the last one was 7:00-7:45 pm.  While waiting for the last tasting, one of the hosts offered us a pre-tasting of two Balvenie brands.

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My first impression of Balvenie Whiskey was that it was smooth but bold with lots of flavor. The tasting was set-up in a booth with two long tables, ten people at each table. Around the walls of the booth were photos of Balvenie distillery employees. Our tasting host explained the history behind each employee and their contribution to the Balvenie Whiskey brand.

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Belvenie is a hand-crafted single malt whiskey that originated in Dufftown, Scotland.  It’s one of the only distilleries in Scotland that still grow their own barley and make their copper stills.  They also employ Malt Masters to oversee the maturing process and maintain the malting floor – one of a handful still active in Scotland. Belvenie has participated in craft shows around the world because they are a long-standing company that takes pride in continuing the tradition of making hand-crafted whiskey.

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At each seat was a tray with four glasses of whiskey and a glass of water. For the tasting we sampled the Double Wood aged 12 years,  Caribbean Cask aged 14 years, Double Wood aged 17 years and Portwood aged 21 years.

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The tasting host walked us through each sample explaining the unique flavors.  He explained to us how to properly smell and taste whiskey.  He instructed us to hold the whiskey glass 1 inch from our nose and pretend the rim is a clock. We moved it horizontal from 9 to 3 and vertical from 12 to 6.  He pointed out the differences in the notes we smelled at each point.

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The whiskey tray was also resourceful and described the notes that we were smelling and tasting. He also explained that some people like to add a little water to their whiskey to open up the flavor.

Balvenie Whiskey has a total of 14 whiskey varieties and is priced at $50.00 – $250.00 US Dollars.

Have you tried Balvenie Whiskey?  Which one is your favorite?

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