I have many early memories of the golden liquid made from barley; be it my first legal drink on the Hyatt roof with a cousin, buying from the local LCBO when it was still a warehouse-style setup, or being given a little taste of Crown Royal from dad when feeling under the weather. I discussed these memories, and learned about a new friend recently at One Restaurant at the Hazelton Hotel. Dr. Sam Simmons is the global voice behind The Balvenie, and is preaching the merits of this storied house of Scotch Whisky.
This Speyside distillery is a special place, where they keep to the traditions of old. They keep every step of the process within their properties, and they both grow and malt the barley, as well as having their own cooperage for their barrels. No corners are cut by master distiller David Stewart, who is the longest serving in his position at any distillery in Scotland. Further, The Balvenie distillery, in Banoffshire, is one of only 5 remaining family-owned in the country. Impressive levels of dedication are what has given them this longevity.
Sam was in town to show off the latest innovation from Balvenie, the 14 Year-Old: Caribbean Cask, a wonderful middle-road scotch that everyone can enjoy. Aged for 14 years in traditional oak whiskey casks, the scotch is then finished in casks that are seasoned with Stewarts secret blend of rums (his favourite drink when not working his trade), and finished for a few months to pick up the tropical notes we associate with rum. This scotch does a wonderful dance on your palate, has a very soft and lingering finish, and at $99.95 is at a nice price point for a quality product such as this.
While visiting with Sam, I tried 3 of the other Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whiskies. The DoubleWood (12 year), The Signature (12 Year), and The Peated Cask (17 year).
I do enjoy Scotch, and believe in having a varied supply around the house, calling them "friends", because after a long day there is nothing like a dram to help you relax. My favourite of the day was definitely then Caribbean Cask, as its tropical notes help it to stand out and I will be proud to have a bottle sit on my shelf, alongside its other countrymen. The Peated was complex, and has a lovely smoke to it, and would be a great once-in-a-while bottle for me, but overall these were a big hit on my palate, and I am glad I had the opportunity to try them. All of the Balvenie scotches in this article are available at the LCBO, but the Caribbean and Peated Cask are limited editions.