Balvenie

Owner.. William Grant & sons.
Founded.. 1892.
Region.. Speyside.
Capacity.. 6 800 000 litres.
Tel.. 01340 820373
Web.. http://www.thebalvenie.com
Tours by appointment.
Bottle your own [usually 3 casks]
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We still grow our own barley and keep faith with a traditional malting floor, the last of its kind in the Scottish Highlands. Our resident coppersmith maintains the stills and our team of coopers ensure each barrel is in perfect condition. And of course, our Malt Master presides over the all-important maturation process.

Each year we sow barley on our 1,000 acre farm, Balvenie Mains, overlooking the distillery, just as we always have. The only concession we make to the 21st century is the use of a combine harvester when the crop is ripe for harvesting. Apart from that, the barley is grown the same way as it was in the beginning.

After steeping the grain in spring water sourced from hills above the distillery, we spread the grains across our traditional malting floor where our malt men turn it by hand up to four times a day until it’s ready for the kiln. Here it is dried using anthracite and a carefully judged amount of peat, which adds further complexity to our whisky.

Some casks need to be ‘toasted’, just enough to open the pores but not enough to burn too deep.. It’s quite a skill, but then our coopers repair, rebuild, fill and seal 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.

The casks are so important to the taste of The Balvenie that we entrust their preparation and maintenance only to our on-site team of coopers.

How do we ever decide which casks will be used to craft The Balvenie DoubleWood and which allowed to slumber on for two further decades? Which will go on to sleep in oaken butts from the bodegas, rich in Oloroso sherry? Which in port pipes? That’s the job of our Malt Master, David Stewart.

His unmatched expertise ensures that each expression in our range makes the absolute best of the complex alchemy of spirit, wood and time. For all the skill required to ensure consistency in The Balvenie, our Malt Master looks forward to the future as much as to tradition: it’s he who pioneers new ways of bringing out the mysteries that hide within each drop. After 50 years, to David it’s second nature.

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