Sunday 1 September 2013

Tasted #36: Balvenie TUN 1401 Batch 5 (#101drams)

It's been about two weeks since my last post, but the good news is I've tasted some pretty fantastic whiskies in that time, and have some even more fantastic events coming up, so September should be a month of interesting posts.

To kick start the month - a #101drams whisky I've been eagerly awaiting - Balvenie TUN 1401. For those unfamiliar with the TUN 1401, the story goes: David Stewart (Balvenie's Malt Master) selects a number of exceptional (often very old) casks, marries them together in TUN 1401 for a certain timeframe (3 months in the case of this Batch 5), bottles them at cask strength, and the result is a fantastic whisky.

$250-$300AUD (give or take) may seem like a lot for a NAS (No Age Statement) whisky, but given the excellent reviews each and every TUN 1401 has received, and the age range of the casks (oldest: 46 years, youngest: 21 years), I was pretty confident it would be a great dram. Also, given I tried this at the excellent Whisky + Alement in Melbourne, my "price of entry" was only $24 or so. Not much for what I was pretty sure would be one of the better #101drams whiskies!

Not every batch makes it to every region, which makes this Batch 5 interesting in that it was never officially released in Australia (I believe it was mainly released in the US). Batch 8 (the latest release) has been officially released in Australia, but in very limited quantities.

Balvenie TUN 1401 Batch 5 (NAS, 50.1%, Speyside Scotland)
Nose: Lots going on here. I don't always pick up as many notes as some of my friends and colleagues when nosing whiskies, but on this I got fresh cream, bananas (but not in a youthful whisky way), and...flint? Hints of smoke, but definitely muted. Complex, brilliant.

Palate: Rich, big mouthfeel - reminiscent of the 15yo cask strength (one of my all-time favourite whiskies), but more subdued than 15yo. The bananas continue, with a sweet, sharp caramel flavour at the forefront. 

Finish: Long (as you'd expect given half of these whiskies are 40+ years old, and one is 46 years old!) Caramel sweetness lingers, with a small amount of smoke evident at the back of the throat.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 94/100. Did not disappoint in the slightest. Unfortunately now, I'm going to be on a mission to taste the rest of the range...and one day I'll probably buy a bottle in a duty-free shop somewhere in a moment of weakness. This could get expensive!

- Martin.

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