Whisky Advocate

New Balvenie Signature 12 yr.: good news, bad news

May 16th, 2008

Balvenie just introduced a new whisky, called Signature. It’s a 12 year old to celebrate Master Distiller David Stewart’s 45 years in the whisky business. That’s the good new. The bad news (for my U.S. readers) is that it will not be sold in the U.S in 2008. You will have to cross the pond and bring back a bottle. I have been told that this will be the distribution:  Europe first – UK and France, then the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and Germany and lastly Canada from September this year. A bummer for those of us in the U.S.!

Hopefully the U.S. will get this whisky early in 2009. I’m getting a sample sent to me and will let you know when I taste it. Details in the press release excerpt below.

David Stewart, Malt Master of the award-winning Balvenie Distillery, has crafted The Balvenie Signature Single Malt Scotch Whisky – a new addition to The Balvenie range – to mark his 45th year in the whisky industry.

Naming it his signature Balvenie, the 12 year old single malt from the Speyside distillery is a skillful marriage from three cask types – first fill bourbon barrels, refill casks and sherry butts. From the sherry butts come rich fruit and spiciness; the bourbon barrels add subtle vanilla oak and layers of honey and the refill casks impart delicate, sweet notes and smoothness. The result of this union is a perfect balance of spice and subtle oak, deliciously enveloped in The Balvenie’s trademark honeyed character.

As the longest-serving Malt Master in the industry, David Stewart personally developed the award-winning range of The Balvenie Single Malts along with his team of master craftsmen. Using his expertise in maturation, David employs different types of wood to create distinct taste and flavour nuances within the Balvenie range.

Says David, “It has given me great pleasure to create a signature whisky as part of The Balvenie range.  Maturing and marrying the finest single malt Scotch whisky has been my passion for over 45 years and it’s an honour to mark the moment with an addition to The Balvenie family.”

The Balvenie Signature 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a limited release. Each bottle carries its own batch number, and has been handcrafted by David Stewart and his team of craftsmen at The Balvenie Distillery. Signature will go on sale in the UK and selected markets from April 2008 at an RRP of £29.69 for a 70cl bottle.

15 Responses to “New Balvenie Signature 12 yr.: good news, bad news”

  1. Aaron says:

    That is dreadful news. As a fan of Balvenie generally, and the Single Barrel especially, I was looking forward to getting my hands on the new expression. I am often perplexed by the manner in which whiskey is distributed, especially when large markets are omitted or given a delayed release.

  2. John Hansell says:

    Many times it is simply a matter of bottle design. Europe is 700 ml, the U.S. is 750 ml. Sometimes for limited-edition bottlings, the producer will chose one or the other, but not both.

    The other issue regarding the U.S. is that each state has their own rules and regulations, which can be a burden to the producer to sell their whisky here in the U.S.

    Regardless, it’s a bummer when we can’t get a whisky here in the U.S. The last time I checked, we are still the largest market.

  3. B.J. Reed says:


    My friend just got us the last two bottles in stock at Royal Mile Whisky Shop this Friday in Edinburgh which tells me its already in short supply – Doesn’t mean its not getting restocked just that it must be selling well.


  4. John Hansell says:

    Thanks BJ for the update!

  5. R.J. Knuth says:

    I picked up a bottle last month, it was marked as a limited release Batch 001. I have pics if anyone is interested. Email me: the_avb at yahoo dot com

  6. John Hansell says:

    How does it taste?

  7. jules says:


    2 things that maybe someone can help me clear up…

    1) This is “Limited Release”. What does this really mean for this bottling, isnt it just a gimmic to get people to buy it as they believe it to be more exclusive? As i understand this bottling is replacing the 10yo founders reserve so it will b pretty wide scale then, just because each bottle has its own batch number doesnt make it exclusive at all. Please enlighten me if i am wrong. Does anyone know how many bottles they will be making? How loosly should the term ‘limited’ be used?

    2) Is this not pretty much just the 12yr doublewood, i’ve just read the tasting notes for both and they both seem to be the same just worded differently > DOUBLEWOOD: “Smooth and mellow with beautiful combined flavours – nutty sweetness, cinnamon spiciness and a delicately proportioned layer of sherry – with a long and warming finish” > SIGNATURE: “Rich and honeyed with a hint of sherry fruitiness. A spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg and a subtle oakiness develop with time. The finish is warm and lingering”.

    Having said all this i’ve bought a bottle anyways £24.99 from oddbins, just about to crack into it

    P.s. Lagavulin or New Ardbeg? Same price now

    I love scotch, scotchy scotch scotch, here it goes down, down into my belly

  8. John Hansell says:

    All good questions. I’ll try to get some answers for you.

  9. jules says:

    cheers John

  10. jules says:

    any answers?


  11. Raymond says:


    Just writing to say I just picked up a bottle of this at University Village just outside of Seattle. So it is already in the states!

  12. Sam Simmons says:

    So Jules, what did you think? How did it taste?

    I will assume it tasted distinctly different to the DoubleWood, in spite of the similar tasting notes. Well spotted! Hilarious. Remember, NO master distiller (save maybe Jim McEwan) enjoys writing those things. Think about it: what annoying work to find 20 words to describe what might have taken you 20 YEARS to create!!!

    Thanks for your questions. I hope I can answer them.
    Signature 12yo is now in the USA. It is NOT a replacement for Founder’s Reserve 10yo. It is a different whisky altogether, created for different reasons, out of different casks, on a much smaller scale…
    The Balvenie Signature 12yo is a limited release created to celebrate our Malt Master’s 45 years (!!!) with the distillery. So it is a limited release that will be repeated in small batches directly selected by David Stewart with the aim of displaying the “signature flavours” of Balvenie, without any of the wood innovation that David and our coopers have utilized with DoubleWood 12yo, PortWood21yo, or our new Rum Cask 17yo.
    Because of its limited nature it may not be available everywhere, but future batches could possibly have a wider reach. So limited can be understood as “limited on a global scale.” So, there are thousands of bottles, but each market that has the release has very few bottles. It’s a big world! For example, in DC where I am now, there are 6 cases. Period. I would call that limited. If I can find out exactly how many bottles came out of Batch #001, I will let you all know.

    If you need help tracking down a bottle just let me know. And do be sure to come try some at WhiskyFEST!

    Hope this has helped.

  13. John Hansell says:

    Thanks Sam for clarifying. See you in a couple weeks at WhiskyFest NY.

  14. jules says:

    thks 4 the info,

    tastes fantastic – honey vanilla sweet with a tangy spicy finish, havin a wee dram now – still a quarter bottle left – time 2 buy a new bottle i think, any suggestions?

  15. Kevin Bunt says:

    Balvenie Signature 12 Year Old Ltd Release Batch No.001:

    I just rec’d a bottle for my birthday, along with 3 other whiskys. It was an excellent day! The Balvenie was the smoothest and the tastiest of the 4. I trust it will not be a “time limited” release.

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