Whisky is great. I may not know enough about its complicated manufacturing processes, nor of the distinction between the numerous Scottish distilleries that pepper Speyside, but I know that each creation can be very individually nuanced.
As most fellow enjoyers of the smooth liquor, I am generally familiar with William Grant & Sons' widely-popular Glenfiddich, but lesser of its specialised sibling The Balvenie. Coming to learn of the small size yet longstanding tenure of its workforce—many of which spend their lifetimes tending their role—, it's clear that dedication to craft is a priority.
Besides one of a handful of distilleries in Scotland that grows its own barley and upholds traditional floor malting, The Balvenie was also pioneer to cask finishing at the helm of Malt Master David C. Stewart (MBE). Cask finishing, maturing whisky in a second cask previously housing another liquor type to create further palate complexity, is just one of the interesting tales to unfurl during the 130 year legacy.
So it's clever, regardless of possible marketing-driven motives, that the brand has a collection of these anecdotes bottled up. Originating from suggestions on a whim, or even pure accident, production volume of these creative expressions is highly limited.
Take, for instance, 'A Day of Dark Barley 26'; derived from a delivery error of dark roasted malted barley, commonly used for stout, that arrived at the Distillery in 1992.
The new expression, the mouthful ‘A Revelation of Cask and Character’, is the first in the range to be matured entirely in 100 percent European Oak sherry cask. It's a neat manifestation of the precious relationship the distillery has with its coopers, being among the few that keep cooperage on site. Fruit and nut naturally become the distinct notes, which make it an easy pairing for food.
And since 'A Day of Dark Barley 26' is no longer available, ‘A Rare Discovery from Distant Shores’ is an equally heady addition with 27 years of aging in Caroni rum casks. The signature honeyed taste gives way to richer and darker layers here. With the 48% ABV, do let it air longer before consumption.
Just as how every whisky has a unique hue (hold it up to the light; it's not half as pretentious as you think it is), storing and sharing their peculiar stories certainly makes each moment of savouring one of greater depth in significance and enjoyment.