Scotch Whisky Review: The Balvenie PortWood 21

13 Oct 2009

Original Blogger tags: Scotch Whisky, Rated 9, The Balvenie PortWood 21

We have only a small 50 ml tasting bottle of this scotch, and I just poured it. Even letting the glasses breathe, I can already tell from the aroma wafting my way that this one is going to be interesting.

The color is a nice amber — it’s actually similar to a the color of tawny port, but perhaps with a little more red. It is thick and leaves nice legs on the glass. On the nose, there’s a citrus sharpness, like lemon oil, honey, vanilla, and a rich perfume of oak and port. It’s a gorgeous, thick aroma… I’m almost tempted to just keep smelling it and skip tasting it. (Well, almost, but not quite!)

On the tongue, it’s quite a potent, “hot,” drying flavor, but the burn is pleasant. I’m hoping it will help keep me free of viruses this flu season. There’s a whole set of peppery, spicy flavors I’m having trouble unpacking — cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. I’m not getting much in the way of floral tastes, but that’s OK. There is plenty to keep both the nose and tongue occupied as it is!

I’d explore the taste with a little water added, but I can’t bring myself to do it! There’s just not enough in that little 50 ml bottle, especially split with my wife, to risk ruining it.

Some of the professional reviews I skimmed noted toasted nuts, and I can agree with that, and also notes a flavor of armagnac. I agree — a nice armagnac is filled with vanilla and caramel notes while also providing a little heat and spice, and this whisky does just that. They also mention “cedar,” and I guess that’s fair, although I’m not sure I can really distinguish my aromatic woods. Maybe I need to do some homework.

Grace gives this one an 8 — she is somewhat turned off by the “burn.” I think it’s incredibly nicely balanced and I don’t mind the burn — because it isn’t as overpowering and doesn’t stick in the mouth as much as the Lagavulin 16, where the peat and iodine really stay with you. I give this one a nine. I probably wont’ be tasting it again anytime soon, unfortunately — full bottles of this whisky are expensive, ringing up at around $100. But still — maybe someday!

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