Originally released for Travel Retail, Balvenie 16 Year Old Triple Wood is aged in a combination of wood types – refill American oak casks, first-fill bourbon barrels and first-fill oloroso sherry butts – resulting in a sweet and spicy whisky.
Colour: Rich dark brown.
Nose: Floral and spicy, with hints of toffee, treacle and molasses.
Taste: Sweet with an almost smoky opening, which is balanced by a refreshing spiciness in the mid-palate.
Finish: Sweet and rich, with elements of burnt toffee and warm spice.
If you’re familiar with the classic Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel, then this expression will be familiar to you, but the addition of sherry matured barrels gives the whisky a more complex, caramel flavour and a long, lingering finish.
There’s also a feeling of added depth on the nose, even before the spirit hits your lips, which leads me to believe that this Balvenie has been aged slightly longer than the 12 year old expression.
What I really love about this bottle is the great balance between sweet, savoury and smoky flavours. Not once did I find this whisky to be over-rich or too rich to be enjoyable, but rather the flavours were balanced and worked well together to create a very enjoyable dram.
The addition of the oloroso sherry casks has changed the nose slightly, giving a pleasant floral note and an upgraded mouth feel. There’s also a subtle smokey flavour, which seems to have been lost from the 12 Year Old Single Barrel in my opinion.
In terms of reviews online the Balvenie 16 Year Old Triple Cask isn’t widely reviewed, though there are plenty of opinions and discussions on forums and elsewhere. The most vocal opposition seems to come from whisky geeks who believe that the Balvenie 16 is set to replace the 12 year old, which is only available in travel retail. That said, the 16 year old can be bought online and some shops located outside of the UK, so as far as I’m concerned it’s made quite a big mark on the online whisky world, considering it’s not available in Whisky Heaven or even at a higher price at specialist whisky stores.
Nosing the 16 year old Balvenie, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the 12 year old single barrel, only slightly more complex, but that’s not to say this is a bad thing. There’s a lot to love with this dram, and even though it’s not something I’d drink every day (like the 12 year old), it is a tasty dram – and a handy bottle to have on the go, if you can get your hands on a bottle. My only criticism of this whisky is the colour; while I love the rich colour, I wish it had a rich dark brown hue rather than a slightly reddish brown colour.
A very good whisky, though I’d buy it over the 12 year old on price alone – and that’s with the added complexity and depth this bottle brings. I’d love to know how those who have tasted both side by side would compare the 12 and the 16? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.