The Balvenie unveils oldest whisky to dateBy Nicola Carruthers
Speyside distillery The Balvenie has launched its oldest expression to date as part of its DCS Compendium Chapter Three range – a 55-year-old single malt whisky.
The Secrets of the Stock Model is the third instalment from the compendium, which celebrates the industry’s longest-serving malt master, David Stewart MBE.
The range comprises of five “extremely rare” single cask single malt bottlings, including a 55-year-old European oak Oloroso sherry hogshead from 1961.
The final expressions chosen for Chapter 3 each represent a year “relevant to the evolution” of The Balvenie.
Stewart describes the 55-year-old expression as “a perfect depiction of the style of whisky The Balvenie distilled around this time”.
According to the distillery, the 1973 European oak oloroso Sherry butt expression “signifies the plentiful years of production” during the 1970s whisky boom, while the 1981 refill American oak hogshead represents the first vintage the distillery would have used to produce DoubleWood when it launched in 1993.
The 23-year-old whisky, which is matured in refill American oak hogshead from 1993, represents the year the range was re-imagined in the bottle used today, as well as the first use of the term DoubleWood, which introduced the double cask maturation process David pioneered.
The 2004 vintage bottling marks two occasions in the distillery’s history – David’s 30th year in the role and the same year he introduced The Balvenie Thirty.
“In my role as malt master one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding aspects is the management of our large and precious whisky stocks,” said Stewart. “
“This chapter is a tribute to the strategic decisions we’ve made over the years, as we look to control stock management variables such as industry demand, new innovations and of course the angels’ share.”
Each set is accompanied by The Balvenie DCS Compendium book, written by Dr Samuel J Simmons, The Balvenie global ambassador. Signed by Stewart, the book features rare archive imagery from the distillery, along with information on each of the five DCS Compendium chapters and their process.
A second edition of the book will be released alongside Chapter 3, updated in light of Stewart receiving an MBE in 2016 for his services to the Scotch whisky industry.
Two more chapters are to follow, and will be released annually until 2019: Chapter Four: Expecting the Unexpected; and Chapter Five: Malt Master’s indulgence.