Whisky Advocate

Reviews: Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask and Balvenie Peated Cask

September 21st, 2010

Two new ones from Balvenie.

Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask, 14 year old, 43%, $60
A new addition to the permanent Balvenie range. Lovely bright gold color. Layers of sweetness (the characteristic Balvenie honey, along with vanilla fudge, nougat and rich toffee) peppered with dried spice and a hint of tropical fruit (papaya, guava, tangerine). Great viscosity with good grip on the finish. I really like the balance in this whisky—nice complexity too! A very solid effort and the price is right.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 89

 

 

 

Balvenie Peated Cask, 17 year old, 43%, $130
The newest release in Balvenie’s limited-edition range, and the first venture back into smoke since the “Islay Cask” limited release several years ago. Some of this whisky was finished in a peated cask, some in new American oak. Both influences emerge with the smoke (jerky with a hint of kippers) and spice (cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg) on a foundation of honeyed malt. Spicy, smoky finish. Balvenie is one of those big Speyside whiskies that can stand up to the smoke. This one will not appeal to everyone, but it makes for an interesting diversion.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 85

30 Responses to “Reviews: Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask and Balvenie Peated Cask”

  1. Red_Arremer says:

    60$ suggested retail for a 14 yo Balvenie? Please… History repeats itself because these guys just have no clue know how to price a brand.

    Recently, retailers had to struggle to move the last remaining stocks of 10 yo Founder’s Reserve Because 12 yo Double Wood was almost always on deal for the same price or less. More recently, many retailers found it almost impossible to move the new 12 yo Signature because, on shelves, it appeared comparable to the 12 yo Double Wood, but cost 20-30$ more. I’m not sure who solved the problem, but the solution was that the Double Wood’s jumped a lot closer to Signature’s.

    And how about the Sherry Oak 17 yo? It sold for around 80$ when it came out. But when the next 17 yo came out at 110$, a similar situation ensued and in stock, already bought bottles of Sherry Oak got a 20$ price hike.

    Now were hearing that the new Rum Cask 14 yo is going to be priced lower than the Signature 12 yo? Anyone wanna take a guess at what’s going to happen this time?

    • Ely says:

      either way i bought a bottle of the caribbean 14 and it has been my daily drink for the last week – it really is excellent ($49.99 in NYC by the way).

      i have a peated 17 on it’s way which unfortunately cost $104.99 but hey, it’s new and it’s limited and it’s probably pretty good!

      the 14 however will be purchased again!

      • DavidG says:

        Care to share where on NYC it priced at $50?

        • DavidG says:

          Oh no – the ability to edit my careless typing and spelling errors has gone away – apologies to all…

        • Ely says:

          i forget exactly which store but it was in the 70’s on either 2nd or 3rd avenue… i bought it last week walking home from the eye doctor after my eyes were dilated so i was in a bit of a haze!

          couple more thoughts, when the rum cask 17 yr was introduced i fell in love with it and bought a few bottles right away but grew tired of it very soon. the 14 yr caribbean is so much lighter and easier to enjoy (for me at least) and at half the price it’s a bargain.

          regarding the DW and Signature, i dont really recall the prices on those i am sorry!

        • jim says:

          DOGWOOD LIQUORS IN FRANKLIN SQUARE, NY (Nassau County) Nice people too…GREAT STUFF HUH!? It reminds me – somewhat – of my favorite, Arrans Champagne Cask. Unfortunately, you can’t get THAT anymore. Glad I got my case last year when it was available….CHEERS! And HAPPY HUNTING!

          And YES- it IS always nice to share!

      • Red_Arremer says:

        I’m glad to hear it, Ely. And I only said they don’t know how to price– They sure know how to make whisky! I love Balvenie (the 15 was what really got me into scotch) and I cannot wait to try these.

        Out of interest how much do Double Wood and Signature usually run in the store where you got the Rum Cask?

        • Jon R says:

          Red, I think we are confusing elements of the commercial reality of how this stuff is created, comes to market, is sold, etc.

          I own a shop in New Jersey but was born and raised in the UK where I worked for a major distiller and I assure you that pricing is not 100% in the hands of the whisky maker. In the USA it is dictated by sales teams (local supplier reps who work brand portfolios), marketing (brand management teams), distributors (through volume deals and discounts) and retailers (adjusting prices as they see fit to make a buck or the opposite, adjusting by mistake and hurting themselves or the brands).

          When Mr. Hansell gives us a price of a given whisky, he is reflecting recommended retail price as it is laid out in the press pack he receieved from marketing. More often than not, Trader Joes in California will have a VERY different price than Park Avenue Liquor in NYC and NEITHER will be the note-for-note RRP. They are just adjusted for what price they acquired the goods for and how much their customers can handle.

          I am pissed off that my whisky costs more today than it did ten, hell even TWO years ago, but vilifying marketing or the people who make balvenie or any single malt because your town sells a whisky for more than another is just fingerpointing in the wrong direction.

          Besides, I think 60 bucks for a 14 year old whisky is completely on the mark: Oban 14, Glenmorangie’s 12yo finishes, Macallan 15, etc. And I’ve tasted it. And it’s good.

          • Red_Arremer says:

            Jon, the point is just this– the RRP for this new Rum Cask 14 yo whiskey is the same as that of the Signature 12 yo. The new whiskey seems cheaper than it should be and somewhere down the line, this will generate consternation. As you say, the form and resolution of this consternation will be worked out by the hierarchy of distribution and retail as a whole. However, the people handling the Balvenie brand are the ones responsible for the structure of the releases (age, characteristics, and RRPs) and they will be the ones responsible for the consternation. And stuff like this has happened with Balvenie plenty of times in the last 3 years.

            Man– I got confused by the edit feature. I think I posted this comment at the bottom of the thread and then accidentally asked for it to be deleted…

          • Sam Simmons says:

            Around the time when Asimov and Kelley thought itwas the best Speyside whisky in their head-to-head (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE1D71331F930A35751C1A96E9C8B63&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=all) , John listed Signature at $55 RRP back when he first reviewed it (http://www.whatdoesjohnknow.com/2008/09/08/the-balvenie-signature-batch-1/)
            So, no, Red. Not the same RRP as Caribbean.
            And “somewhere down the line, this will generate consternation?”
            I cannot remember the last time people on this site, or anywhere, complained about whisky being priced “cheaper than it should be”

            Yes, the 17yo took a price increase post-Sherry Oak (2008). Rum Cask, Maderia Cask, and Peated Cask have all kept the same RRP.

            And btw, where are all these 10yo Founders Reserve you refer to? Folks regularly ask me where they can get more so there is no lack of demand. Share!

            Cheers,
            Sam

          • Red_Arremer says:

            5$ more for two years and an exotic finish is virtually nothing, Sam. And of course 55$ that was the RRP for Signature 2008 batch one– Not for whatever batch it is this year. And the Founders Reserve is still sitting on shelves in some stores in Boston.

            One thing is that the rum cask has a nice RRP.

            Another thing is that Balvenie has been handling RRP’s in a counter productive fashion. Retailers like to talk about this. I gave some examples in my first post. The RRP on the Rum Cask is yet another RRP that will stand in a nonsensical relationship to the RRP’s of other current Balvenie releases. So Balvenie keeps doing this and that’s worth mentioning.

          • Red_Arremer says:

            Just to carry on with my unpopular observations:

            70$ Balvenie 12 Signature
            70$ Balvenie 15 Single Barrel
            75$ Balvenie 17 Madeira

            Just at a Liquor store near Charles M.G.H. in Boston. And they were all sitting right next to eachother.

            No other brand consistently has quite this wild a mix of reckless overpricing (Signature) and reckless package offers for retailers (Madeira).

      • Steve Feuerstein says:

        I appreciate your comment about the Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask from last year. You mentioned that you bought it for $49 in NYC. I live in the Bronx and haven’t seen any prices in this range. Might you kindly tell me from what store you bought it?

        Thanks.

        Steve

  2. David D says:

    It’s amazing the difference sometimes between East Coast wholesale costs and the West Coast. Sometimes I think there’s a scam in New York to keep prices lower, yet then I get calls from guys who want to ship 100 bottles of Glenlivet & Glenfiddich because it’s cheaper in California!. In any case, the Rum cask is very good and actually only hints at rum flavor which is nice. The peated is much like a bacon maple bar – and that’s not a bad thing.

  3. mongo says:

    john, you forgot to add “the price is not right” to the end of the review of the peated cask. i look forward to trying the rum cask.

  4. George Jetson says:

    I have bought a few bottles of the “Golden “Cask” version at duty-free. It will be interesting to do a h-t-h with the US version. I have to agree with Red on the recent marketing plan from the Grants though.

  5. Texas says:

    I like Balvenie 12 DW and Balvenie FR..not so much on the 15. However when I can splurge I will get the Rum Cask sounds good.

    • Freddy says:

      Like you I enjoy the 10 year Founders Reserve, and the 12 year Double Wood, but found the 15 year Single Barrel a tad too spicey for my novice taste buds…That said – the 14 year Caribbean Cask is a winner, and my favorite dram so far from the Balvenie distillery…You won’t be disappointed – so go ahead, and treat yourself.

  6. Barry Jay says:

    LOL..I love David D’s post “bacon maple bar”. Scotch certainly is alchemy at its best. I must admit, being the scotch heathen that I am, I’m looking forward to Whiskey Fest NY to try the Peated Cask. I’ve never been dissapointed by anything from Balvenie. I was once at a local resturant and they had Balvenie 25 yr old….so I order a round..then another…then another….for myself and a friend. Dang, I didn’t know they were $45 a shot. At least my wife buys a lot of Coach bags, so it gives me a pass when exploring the spirits….

  7. B.J. Reed says:

    I have found rum finished whiskies really hit and miss so this one seems like a winner – I agree with Red that the pricing system is very confusing to consumer – The 17 YO’s have been priced above $100 pretty consistently lately but I remember getting the 17 Islay cask for $45 in Austin a few years ago so I want to compare this peated malt with that one.

  8. Red_Arremer says:

    Jon, the point is just this– the RRP for this new Rum Cask 14 yo whiskey is the same as that of the Signature 12 yo. The new whiskey seems cheaper than it should be and somewhere down the line, this will generate consternation. As you say, the form and resolution of this consternation will be worked out by the hierarchy of distribution and retail as a whole. However, the people handling the Balvenie brand are the ones responsible for the structure of the releases (age, characteristics, and RRPs) and they will be the ones responsible for the consternation. And stuff like this has happened with Balvenie plenty of times in the last 3 years.

  9. mongo says:

    for those in the twin cities, surdyk’s has the caribbean cask on sale for a few more days at $43.99. i picked one up today.

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