Whisky Focus - The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3

The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 4

26th October 2018

The Balvenie has unveiled the fourth chapter of its DCS Compendium "Expecting The Unexpected".

The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 4

The Balvenie has unveiled the forth annual instalment in its premium DCS Compendium series of whiskies, The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 4 "Expecting The Unexpected".

The collection comprises the most distinct and unusual vintages completely different to The Balvenie’s usual style, that would have otherwise never existed.

The exclusive collection brings to life the lasting mystery, magic and alchemy inherent in whisky maturation, highlighting how Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE’s 56 years in the industry has mastered the art of nurturing the unexpected.

Commenting on The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter Four, David C. Stewart MBE, says: "Despite spending many years studying the science and art of whisky maturation, there are still occasions when I find myself pleasantly surprised with the unexpected direction a liquid has taken. The nature of whisky making is unpredictable and in the case of The Balvenie DCS Chapter Four, means a selection of remarkable and distinctly different liquids have been released that would otherwise never have seen the light of day.

"Each of the five liquids in Chapter Four present highly unusual and unexpected characteristics that we wouldn’t have thought possible from the type of oak they matured in and the maturation time they’ve been given. It’s incredibly exciting. Chapter Four gives us the opportunity to celebrate these twists and turns and allows us to release an extraordinary series of vintages, strides apart from our usual styles."

The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 4 whiskies are:

  • The Balvenie 1971 47 Year Old, Cask No. 2855
    This Balvenie 1971 is the oldest expression in the Chapter 4 line up, matured in refill European oak Oloroso sherry butts. Its high level of richness and spice led David to initially think that a clerical error had been made and the liquid had in fact been matured in first fill casks. Researching further, he found that no error had been made and the liquid’s unique profile was a pure and unexpected rarity.

    European oak Oloroso sherry butts, filled 8th March 1971, 49.9% ABV
    RRP £21,000
  • The Balvenie 1982 36 Year Old, Cask No. 0635
    Having matured in an uncommon European oak Oloroso sherry hogshead, the 1982 vintage took on interesting and completely unexpected notes of dark chocolate. This liquid represents a time when David C. Stewart MBE started experimenting with maturing The Balvenie in two different wood types, what would later be called ‘cask finishing’.

    European oak Oloroso sherry hogshead, filled 27th February 1982, 51.1% ABV
  • The Balvenie 1992 26 Year Old, Cask No. 0608
    The 1992 expression is a hallmark example of what The Balvenie was in the experimental days before the launch of The Balvenie DoubleWood. While showcasing ‘normal’ characteristics of liquid matured in Spanish oak, such as a rich sherried sweetness, this 26-year-old expression also features unexpected notes of toasted almonds.

    European oak Oloroso sherry puncheon, filled 23rd January 1992, 49.8% ABV
    RRP £1,200
  • The Balvenie 1999 18 Year Old, Cask No. 9304
    The 1999 Refill American oak hogshead holds significant personal meaning for David as it was the year he celebrated 25 years as The Balvenie Malt Master. Its distinctiveness comes from experiments by The Balvenie’s coopers, which involved toasting the ends of the cask. The remarkable result is an unusual liquid showing vibrant coconut notes.

    Refill American oak hogshead, filled 1st July 1999, 46.8% ABV
    RRP £800
  • The Balvenie 2009: 9 Year Old, Cask No. 2724
    Perhaps the most unexpected vintage is the nine-year-old first-fill American oak bourbon barrel, which David considers one of his ‘biggest surprises’. Despite being clearly recorded as distilled outside of The Balvenie’s annual Peat Week, this 2009 liquid contains notes of distant smoke and peatiness. David’s hypothesis was that this sample is a ‘carry-forward’ – suggesting the peatiness picked up in the spirit was imparted from walls of the washbacks and pipework from earlier runs of Peat Week.

    First-fill American oak bourbon barrel, filled 7th April 2009, 64.6% ABV
    RRP £500

The final chapter of this five chapter series will be released in 2019, and just like the first four chapters it will feature five individual casks that correspond with a certain theme within the accompanying book, the Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter Five theme will be "Malt Master’s indulgence" but you will have to wait until next year for the details on the five whiskies in Chapter 5.

Meanwhile The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 4 Expecting The Unexpected launches in November and will be available as a set for a RRP of £29,000 as well as individually from specialist online whisky shops such as The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and Master of Malt

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