After a brace of other batches destined for the US and travel retail, the legendary tun has been back in action with Batch 5 arriving on these shores shortly. The bigger batch size represents the popularity of this whisky (2862 bottles) and this time around the marriage has been bought together from nine casks: four sherry butts and five American oak hoggies. The youngest whisky in this batch is apparently 21 years old and the oldest from 1966, with the majority of the sherried whisky coming from the 1970s.
Later this year, David Stewart celebrates his 50th year in the business and will become, by far and away, the longest serving whisky maker in Scotland. It is to his credit that this whisky has seen the light of day and one wonders just how many more batches we will see with the Stewart stamp of approval on them - with any luck, he's not about to pass the marrying tun on to anyone else!
The Balvenie - Tun 1401 - Batch 5 - 50.1% - 2862 bottles - RRP £161
Nose: Cocoa powder, dried ginger, musty mossy notes, combined with woody spice and some rich dark honey all nestle against some sweeter vanilla notes, coconut, some lighter citrus (blood orange) and dried apricot. A dash of water really opens this up and gives it more vibrancy with the rich sherry notes melting into the background and the vanilla, chocolate and citrus occupying the pound seats.
Palate: Waxy Manuka honey, some rich dark chocolate, black cherries and some heavier sherried notes all hit first, with devastating effect. There is so much going on here, it virtually bludgeons the palate - but being vaguely masochistic, your tongue is left wanting more, which it delivers with a deft left hook of vanilla sweetness, some of the lighter citrus and more woody spices. Bang Bang.
Finish: Lingering notes of cocoa, wax and rich honey. All the signature character you could hope for.
Overall: This is unquestionably a superb piece of whisky making and sits right alongside Batch 2 for its solid display of marrying together both dominant sherried whiskies and lighter bourbon-influenced whiskies. If you're looking for something extra special which will act as the 'dah dah' moment in your whisky cabinet then Tun 1401 Batch 5 is an excellent choice. For those who can't stump up the £161, grab yourself a bottle of The Balvenie's Doublewood, which shares the classic formula of bourbon and sherry, for a fraction of the cost.