My previous experiences with Balvenie have been extremely positive. My first blog post in July last year featured their Doublewood 12 and I really enjoyed the 14-year-old Caribbean Cask. But recently, I bought another bottle of the Caribbean Cask and it just didn't click with me at all. It's been over a year since I tried it and a lot more whisky has passed my lips since then. Maybe my tastes are changing, but the CC had a bitterness all the way through, which I found really unappealing. I don't think it was there before otherwise I would have jotted it down. Perhaps it was a bad cask - who knows.
However, despite my disappointment, I saw a bottle of the Signature 12 on special offer and I thought, 'why not?' Unfortunately, I again found a spirity, bitter note in the glass - exactly the same as my recent CC purchase. It wasn't all bad, though, so here's what I thought.
On the nose I got a lot of mashed banana, peach, kiwi fruit and baked apple. Adding to the fruity aromas was toffee caramel, vanilla, a creamy sherry trifle, melted candle wax and a hint of mustard seeds. There was also that sharp, bitter green note lurking at the back, which wasn't exactly pleasant.
Taking a sip, I immediately noticed a tight, astringency. After a few minutes it receded and apples, caramel, spicy cinnamon, hard boiled pineapple cubes and foam banana confectionery came through. I also got a hint of flat sugary Pepsi. The finish was bitter with green peppercorns, sour wood, custard cream biscuits and that touch of kiwi fruit returned.
The Signature's been aged in a mixture of Oloroso sherry butts, first-fill bourbon barrels and refill bourbon casks - and in my opinion, at least one of these was sub-standard. I went back to the bottle time and time again over the course of several months, but that sharp, bitter note just wouldn't go away. A higher alcohol percentage might have helped, but I was left a bit disappointed and it's left me unsure about whether I'll return to Balvenie's range any time soon.