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Cigar Spirits: Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask Single Malt Whisky

30 Oct 2012

Single malt scotch whisky tends to be aged in bourbon and sherry casks, which makes this relatively new addition to the Balvenie line particularly interesting. After a period of aging in a traditional oak bourbon barrel, this 14-year-old single malt is finished in rum casks.

Introduced in 2010 as a U.S.-only release, the 14 Year Caribbean Cask Balvenie sells for around $60. It’s a bit more expensive than their 12 year Doublewood (an excellent value) but similar in price to Balvenie’s 15 year Single Barrel.

The whisky pours a golden straw color that’s not as dark as I would expect. The nose is where the unique character of the Caribbeam Cask starts to shine through as citrus and tropical fruits join with toffee and muted oak.

Once you get down to sipping your dram, you’ll find burnt sugar, a bit of smokiness, oak, dried fruit, and maltiness. It has a great roundness on the palate, not heavy, but crisp and lively. The finish is medium-long with both sweet and dry flavors.

A very good single malt, the lightness surprised me, but it wasn’t a bad thing. It’s the type of Scotch that goes well with a milder cigar, something with a Connecticut shade wrapper and Dominican filler (or a milder Cuban like an H. Upmann). No matter the cigar, the Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask Single Malt is a tasty whisky with it’s own character that leaves a hint of the tropical influence of its production.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

6 Responses to “Cigar Spirits: Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask Single Malt Whisky”

  1. ReggieW Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Why not just drink really excellent rum, which can be had for considerably less than $60 per bottle? What are the benefits of drinking scotch (a relatively expensive spirit) aged in rum (a less expensive spirit) barrels?

  2. mighty Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I have found that really good rum just usually agrees with me more currently. Of course, who knows how my palate will change, but really good rum can be a real treat and it isn't usually as expensive as scotch can get. I guess I am pondering the same thing as ReggieW's post.

  3. Timothy Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Reggie: It's just another way to finish the spirit, similar to how Macallan (and many others) finish in Sherry casks. Glenmorangie, Blavenie and others finish in Madeira casks, Port butts, Burgundy barrels and so forth. Almost all start in American whiskey (bourbon) barrels and some choose to finish in other spirit or wine barrels. It is nothing at all like rum.

    Each year, Balvenie finishes in a different wood for their 17 year old line and have done several, over the last 10 years. This 14 Carribbean is a sequel of sorts to a 17 year Rum cask they did several years ago. This year is a 17 year old version of their famous Doublewood.

    Patrick, thought you knew that just about every Scotch maker adds caramel coloring to their whisky. It's an industry standard that is little talked about, but a good brand ambassador or owner will admit to it. Color has ZERO to do with its age. I have been told by one global ambassador that is accepted and has to be done because of people's expectation. If they pull out a barrel of 18 year old spirit that looks like vodka, and they try to sell it, it would ruin the business.

    Unlike American whiskey, where it is forbidden to add color, it is common in the Scotch whisky industry. Using those barrels first makes a big difference apparently. As far as I know, only Bruichladdich, never colors their whisky.

  4. Patrick S Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Mighty & Reggie- This is completely different from rum in every way. I like good rum too and I like good Scotch. You would not mistake anything about this (nose, taste, finish) for rum.

    It's sort of like the Hooker's House Bourbon I reviewed a while back. It is finished in pinot noir wine barrels, which influences the spirit but doesn't make it anything like wine.

  5. Ashburn Dave Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Dalmore 12 and an Undercrown tonight. Loved every Balvenie I've tried.

    Timothy – I did not know that about the coloring. Kinda wish it wasn't true.

  6. chas Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Excellent rum is great stuff, but excellent scotch can vary so much from each distiller! I wish 15 year balvenie was around $60 where I live. It is more like $80! Doublewood is a staple for me, but recently the Islay stuff has taken over….LOL!