The Balvenie distillery has unveiled French Oak 16 Year Old, a new cask finished whisky to feature in the Flavours of The Balvenie range.
The new expression explores Pineau from the French Charentes vineyards, marking the first use of French Oak in the distillery’s 129-year history.
Pineau des Charentes is a fortified wine, a vin de liqueur, made from fresh, unfermented grape juice or a blend of lightly fermented grape must, to which a Cognac eau-de-vie is added and then matured.
This rich fruity wine is steeped in tradition and seldom found outside the region.
Maturing for 16 years in traditional American Oak whisky barrels to develop the distillery's distinct notes of warm honey, the expression is then finished in Pineau French Oak casks which give a sweetness with notes of grapefruit, geranium, glazed fruit, and ginger.
Anna Austin, wood buyer at William Grant & Sons, said of the new release: “Our casks have been used to season Red Pineau des Charantes, and all have a variety of different histories.
"The complexity of their journey to The Balvenie is what brings the depth of flavour to our whisky.
"By working closely with specialist wine cask suppliers who source the casks from some very special French wineries, we know we can deliver on the highest quality we strive for in our craft.”
The French Oak 16 Year Old liquid is encased in a package that celebrates the floral notes imparted by this finishing cask, as well as elegant visual cues borrowed from the Charentes region of France.
Alwynne Gwilt, The Balvenie Brand Ambassador UK, added: “With the release of our new French Oak 16 Year Old, we are exploring yet another world of flavour through the incredible cask finishing process which our malt master of nearly 60 years, David C. Stewart MBE, pioneered decades ago.
"It’s incredible to watch the flavours unfurl in a new way with the addition of these Pineau de Charantes casks, and showcases that the skill it takes to continue innovating is deep within our ethos of staying true to being a maker at heart.”
The Balvenie’s French Oak 16 Year Old joins two new variants of cask finished whiskies, Madeira Cask 15 Year Old and PX Sherry Cask 18 Year Old alongside its core range of established cask finished whiskies, including DoubleWood 12 Year Old, Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old and PortWood 21 Year Old to form The Flavours of The Balvenie range.
The Balvenie French Oak 16 Year Old is available from 21 March with an RRP of £123.00 (70cl).