The Balvenie looks to sherry for its latest Stories edition

Matured entirely in Oloroso sherry casks, The Balvenie 19 Year Old A Revelation of Cask and Character is also the first expression solely crafted by new malt master, Kelsey McKechnie.

Everybody loves a good tale. Which is exactly why, for the last four years, Speyside single malt distillery The Balvenie has been sharing its Stories expressions. Each one has been released to celebrate different aspects of the whisky’s makers. Sometimes it's about maturation, on other occasions it’s peat. For the latest iteration, the cooper takes centre stage.

The Balvenie 19 Year Old A Revelation of Cask and Character brings front and centre the concept of curiosity, intuition, and passing expertise down from generation to generation. It calls out the on-site cooperage at the distillery, as well as giving a nod to those who watch over oak at the sherry bodegas in Jerez. And, with its rich, powerful flavour profile, it’s a treat to sip as well. 

“Not many distillers have a cooperage on-site and it is so important to the development of our exceptional whiskies,” said Kelsey McKechnie, The Balvenie’s Malt Master. It’s an important expression for her too. Having taken over from David C. Stewart in 2022 after a six-year apprenticeship, this marks a moment in the distillery’s history. 

Stewart detailed: “Not only does this liquid tell the story of the cooper, but it is the first expression designed solely by Kelsey, in which she has mastered the understanding of not just whisky, but of wood, and its impact on the maturation process.

“The introduction of A Revelation of Cask and Character reflects the dedication and skill, and emphasises the credentials of the incredible craftspeople behind the whisky.”

The Balvenie 19 Year Old: ‘Ideas and innovation’

With the cooper front and centre, A Revelation of Cask and Character tells a lot about the ways The Balvenie works with the craftspeople. 

“We have a collaborative process with our coopers, which offers flexibility in ideas and innovation, allowing us to experiment with different casks to explore new flavours,” McKechnie continued. 

“By maturing the whisky entirely in European Oloroso Sherry casks, drinkers experience new depths of spice, rich toffee and honey that are soon met with toasted oak, providing an overflowing heat.”  

The Balvenie 19 Year Old A Revelation of Cask and CharacterHead cooper Ian McDonald, alongside newly-qualified coopers Jack Lomas and Liam Henderson, work on site to manage the process. It’s thanks to their skills, alongside McKechnie’s that make releases like this possible. 

“The coopering team – which is now twenty people, including 11 fully-qualified coopers, four new apprentice coopers and five support team members – plays a huge part in the creation of all The Balvenie whiskies,” McDonald said. He started with the distillery as an apprentice himself back 1969.

“Coopering is the original form of recycling. We always repair old casks, which adds to the rich flavours of the spirits. 

“Our coopers work their way up through a four-year apprenticeship scheme with skills passed from generation to generation, contributing to the whisky creation through cask repair, as exemplified with the Spanish Sherry casks used for A Revelation of Cask and Character.” 

The celebration of the cooper carries through to the bottle itself, which features an illustration of The Balvenie’s cooperage by printmaker Andy Lovell.

A limited release, the expression will only be available for just two years.

The Balvenie 19 Year Old A Revelation of Cask and Character tasting note

Given tasting notes: 

Nose: Intense ripe fruits, caramelised orange peel, toasted oak, milled barley.

Palate: Bold with currants, cherries, raisins and chewy fig.

Finish: Creamy and nutty.