Searching for a truly unique single malt? Discover Balvenie
Dedicated to maintaining traditional whisky making processes, Balvenie is the only distillery in Scotland that still grows its own barley, uses traditional floor maltings and keeps both a coppersmith and a team of coopers on site. It doesn’t get more unique than that.
Here at Whisky Kingdom, we’re big fans of this iconic Speyside distillery and its renowned collection of exceptional single malts. Let’s explore the heritage and craftsmanship behind this signature Scotch…
The William Grant Way
Balvenie dates back to 1892, when Speyside local William Grant built the first distillery at the abandoned Balvenie New House. The following year, whisky production began and so did a long heritage of fine Scotch. The second generation of Balvenie was established in 1923 when William Grant passed away, with son John taking the reins and launching an expansion of the distillery.
Six years later, the distillery underwent a complete replacement of the original maltings. This traditional malting floor laid in 1929 is still in use today. It wasn’t until 1971 when the first official bottling of The Balvenie Single Malt was released with a maturation of over eight years.
The Malt Master, David C. Stewart MBE
One of the most highly regarded names behind Balvenie’s scotch collection is David C. Stewart MBE. David started working at the Speyside site in 1962 when he was just 17 years old. 12 years later, he became the distillery’s fourth Malt Master and went on to lead experimentation with maturing The Balvenie in two different wood types in succession, what would later be known industry wide as ‘finishing’.
At this time of innovation, in 1983 and under David’s direction, the first bottle of The Balvenie Classic was released. Just four years later, the distillery reached a historic landmark, releasing The Balvenie as a 50-Year-Old whisky. It is widely recognised as one of the industry’s first bottlings of such great age.
In 2004, David celebrated 30 years as Balvenie’s Malt Master with the release of The Balvenie Aged THIRTY Years. Continuing to lead experimentation, 2010 saw the launch of Tun 1401, the first of the Tun range in which David selected some of his favourite rare casks from their oldest warehouses, then married them in a Tun.
Future releases are dedicated to David’s legendary influence, including the 2015 launch of The Balvenie DCS Compendium – positioned as handover notes of David’s knowledge and expertise within the whisky industry in liquid and literary form – and the latest range in 2021, titled The Rare Marriages range – paying tribute to David’s dedication to designing and building exceptional flavour, through the marriage of rare casks.
As the longest serving Malt Master in the Scotch whisky industry, no one knows whisky like David does.
Honouring heritage, ensuring quality
As the only distillery in Scotland that still grows its own barley, uses traditional floor maltings and keeps both a coppersmith and a team of coopers on site Balvenie is keeping traditions alive. At this famous Speyside distillery, they call it the Five Rare Crafts…
- Home grown barley
Each year, the masters at Balvenie sow barley on its thousand-acre farm, Balvenie Mains, overlooking the distillery. The only modern technology used is a combine harvester when the crop is ripe for harvesting, with the barley being grown the same way it has always been.
- Malting floor
The Balvenie operates a working floor maltings, one of only a handful left in Scotland. After steeping the barley in spring water sourced from hills above the distillery, the grain is spread across a traditional malting floor. Here the malt men turn it by hand until the malted barley is ready for the kiln, where it’s dried using anthracite and a carefully judged amount of peat, adding further complexity to our whisky.
- Copper stills
The shape and size of the copper stills are two of the most important factors affecting the taste of The Balvenie. The stills have varied very little from when the distillery first opened, maintaining the same ‘Balvenie Ball’ shape, with a bulge or boil ball at the base of the swan’s neck – a feature replicated in the neck of The Balvenie bottle. This allows the vapours more time to mix before they carry on up to the head.
Some casks need to be ‘toasted’ to caramelise the wood sugar, just enough to open the pores but not enough to burn too deep. It’s quite a skill, but then Balvenie Coopers repair, rebuild, fill and seal whisky casks all day, all year. An apprenticeship takes four of those years, but the learning doesn’t stop there: it takes more years of experience to keep everything ‘wind and watertight’ every time.
- Malt Master
Nosing samples for a balance of notes and consistent character, Balvenie Malt Master David decides which casks can be bottled after 12 years, those that will be perfectly finished in oak, or the rare ones that will mature on to become 21, 30 and beyond. During a 12-year apprenticeship at the distillery, David mastered the complex skills required to create the very finest single malt whisky.
At Whisky Kingdom, we’re proud to stock a wide range of Balvenie bottles, including the renowned Tun range and the highly sought-after and collectible Rare Marriages collection. Discover this iconic distillery for yourself and explore the full range.