A whisky half a century in the making has been released.
The Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0962 is an expression of exceptional quality, comprised of highly rare liquid sourced from four American Oak casks aged 50 years or over, each meticulously selected from the oldest sections of The Balvenie’s stocks by Malt Master David C Stewart MBE.
Marrying whisky of this age is rarely attempted. Liquid given 50 years or more to express itself can develop flavours that are uniquely intriguing, but their extreme variances of taste, strength and depth make the task complex to say the least.
David’s accomplishment has been to select and vat four casks into an exquisite whole that combines – and enhances – their many delicate notes. In this way, The Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0962 is a unique expression displaying David’s ongoing commitment to experimentation and innovation.
The Balvenie has a rich history of 50-year-old variants. Its first was a 1937, bottled in 1987, at a time when such vintages were almost unknown.
Mirroring today’s release, the 1937 was a vatting of four constituent casks, each imparting its own unique and aged flavour.
In 2002 the smallest ever release of The Balvenie saw a mere 83 bottles of uniquely rich liquid taken from the famed Cask 191, The Balvenie’s last cask remaining from the 1950s.
In April 2018 one of the last remaining bottles of Cask 191 sold at The Worshipful Company of Distillers auction for £30,000.
In 2012 The Balvenie’s third 50-year-old was drawn from a 1962 European oak sherry hogshead. Just 88 bottles were sold in honour of David’s 50th year with William Grant & Sons.
And 2014 saw the twin bottlings of two identical casks from 1963 which had matured with markedly different characters. Marriage 0962 continues this tradition of innovation by presenting a 50-year-old with an even more complex story.
Commenting on the release of Marriage 0962 – a number which corresponds with the month and year he joined William Grant & Sons – David said: ‘Marrying aged whisky stocks is undoubtedly one of the most challenging, yet enjoyable facets of my role as The Balvenie Malt Master. This was a chance to explore the furthest reaches of our precious aged stocks and see how their extremes could be controlled and combined.
‘Despite enjoying more than 55 years in the business, I’m still discovering and learning new things about the science and art of whisky making. The creation of Marriage 0962 took months of patience to complete, as we’re dealing with liquids with extremes in ABV, taste and age.
‘It’s not every day I get the opportunity to work with liquids of such age, so it was a huge pleasure to be able to share it with the world today.’
Each bottling of Marriage 0962 is presented in a beautiful wooden tube comprised of 50 layers, 48 of walnut and two of brass, expertly handcrafted by Scottish wood craftsman Sam Chinnery at his workshop on Bruntlands Farm near Elgin.
The presentation also includes an etched brass certificate and bottle glorifier, inscribed with the tasting notes of each constituent cask and the taste, palette and finish of the final marriage.
The decanters for Marriage 0962 have been hand-blown from 100% lead-free crystal by Brodie Nairn and his team of expert craftsmen at Glasstorm, based in Tain. The bespoke design of the glass decanter is a sleek reinterpretation of the classic Balvenie bottle shape, which itself mirrors the silhouette of the copper stills at the distillery.
Alwynne Gwilt, UK brand ambassador at The Balvenie saids: ‘We are lucky to have an incredible array of old whisky stocks, deriving from the fact we have had consistency through both family ownership and David’s long term commitment to the company.
‘I am very excited to see this new release come to market as there is something markedly special about releasing a whisky which has spent so many decades in casks at our beautiful home in Speyside.
‘The skill which David brings to his role as Malt Master is unparalleled and I have no doubt that the consumers who try this will be blown away, as they always are at David’s creations.’
The Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0962 launched with 12 exclusive bottles available at specialist whisky retailers.