Review: The Balvenie Madeira Cask 15 Years Old and Pedro Ximenez Cask 18 Years Old

Review: The Balvenie Madeira Cask 15 Years Old and Pedro Ximenez Cask 18 Years Old

Earlier this year, we had the chance to review Balvenie’s new French Oak 16 Years Old aged in Pineaus des Charentes casks. That bottle is actually part of a trifecta of new cask-finished releases launched in the spring of 2022. Two others, a 15-year-old expression finished in Madeira wine casks and an 18-year-old expression finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, join the new French Oak offering. But there is a catch. Both bottles are only available in Travel Retail. Lucky for you folks, we’re a globetrotting booze review site. Thoughts follow.

The Balvenie Madeira Cask 15 Years Old – The Balvenie already successfully experimented with a Madeira finish over a decade ago. Full disclosure, I enjoyed that 17-year-old expression at my wedding, so it holds a certain reverence in my flavor memory. This slightly younger offering is, like that whisky, true first and foremost to The Balvenie distillery character with a malty and nutty aroma gently accented by candy apple, currants, and a bit of pipe smoke. The palate is light and round with an easy warmth and notes of barley sugar and stone fruit that transition on the midpalate to raw honey and orange marmalade on buttery toast. The finish is fresh and generous with lingering notes of ripe peach and toasted hazelnuts. A respectable, if long overdue, sequel to one of my favorite drams. 86 proof. A- / $130

The Balvenie Pedro Ximenez Cask 18 Years Old – PX surely can’t be new to The Balvenie’s exalted cask program, but to my knowledge, it’s the first time the brand has advertised that specific type of sherry for a finishing cask. Either way, it’s a home run of a single malt, gentle and elegant and brimming with character and complexity. The aroma showcases top notes of juicy raisin and dark fig with a lacing of exotic wood and soft baking spice. The palate is gently oily with early notes of grape must and clove that become richer across the sip, adding orange oil, tea leaves, and black licorice before eroding into a long, lightly spiced finish of sandalwood, currants, and brûléed sugar. One of my favorite Balvenie releases in recent memory. 97.4 proof. A / $240

The Balvenie Pedro Ximenez Cask 18 Years Old




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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