Next door to the world-famous Glenfiddich sits its sister distillery, Balvenie, less well-known but commanding a devoted fanbase. The two distilleries are, to this day, owned by the same company, which carrying the name of Balvenie’s founder, William Grant. He learned the tricks of the trade in Mortlach (another of Dufftown’s seven stills) before founding his own distillery in 1886, converting an old mansion house in the process.
In the 1980s and 90s Balvenie were, along with Glenmorangie, one of the pioneers of “cask finishing”, which has since become popular with many other distilleries. Their experiments with unusual cask types (including their 17yo “Islay Cask” - so called because it had matured in a cask previously used to age a smoky Islay malt!) resulted in the addition of a number of expressions to their core range which have now become well-loved classics: the 12-year-old Double Wood (bourbon and sherry) is now their best seller, while the 14-year-old Caribbean Cask (rum finish) and the 21-year-old Portwood (port wine finish) are archetypical examples of the benefits of skilful cask finishing. Each carries the signature Balvenie style - sweet and smooth, slightly nutty, honeyed - with touches of fruit and spice according to the cask influence.