Originally seen as the little brother of Glenfiddich, the pioneer of widespread marketing of single malt whiskies, Balvenie gradually came into its own and now has a clearly defined position in the world of rare malt whiskies. Whilst it shares the same site as Glenfiddich – and Kininvie – it has a character all of its own.
What surprises many is that Balvenie was constructed (in 1892/3) only 5 years after Glenfiddich had started production. It started life as Glen Gordon but soon took its name from nearby but abandoned Balvenie Castle. Its main function was to provide bulk for the William Grant blends, but its quality as a single malt eventually emerged with the first-ever Balvenie bottling in 1971. As I noted at the time of my visit in 1986, it was “…. particularly palatable in the form of the Founder’s Reserve and the rare Balvenie Classic”. Some say that the fact that Balvenie still does some of its own malting, but to meet only about 15% of the total mash requirement, through the traditional floor method, contributes significantly to Balvenie’s distinctiveness.
The range of Balvenie expressions is now quite extensive and a collector/investor market has developed as a consequence.