Monday, August 4, 2014

The Good Get Got - Balvenie 14yo Caribbean Cask Sydney Launch

The many Buntin's and The Balvenie
Yesterday evening, Monday 28th July, now in retrospect, was a good night. Here in Sydney, Australia we saw the public launch of The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask. Without a doubt this is one of the more excitable Balvenie's I have seen in some time and holds up to the standard expected of this brand. I must confess at this point I actually got to try it a few months back on a unofficial level and was remarkably impressed with it, so knowing this evening was on the cards certainly made for additional anticipation. William Grant & Sons know how to look after there brands and The Balvenie sees that care and attention at launches like this.

The Parke Davis
This particular launch was held at The Cuban Place aka Parke Davis (P.D.) on 125 York Street Sydney City. I don't know why it was called The Cuban Place, maybe I should have asked.Like many of Sydney's small bars you really are not even going to know this one is there unless someone tells you. Well here is the telling. The P.D. is clean and spacious with a darkened ambience not suited to improvised photography (curse you Whisky Ledger and your 1.4 canon lens). The the food is great and the mood swinging, especially when there is a steel drum bad beating out some tunes just off left of entry. Descending the stairs on your way into the basement bar your path is lit by a rather impressive bulb lit P.D. sign. I had to stand and marvel at for a time. The galley style bar runs the length of the right hand wall allowing for easy movement in and around the bars public spaces. Nooks can be found to gather and chat whilst an entire anti chamber running off to the left delivers are much more casual sit down experience to enjoy. Personally I was not getting too far away form the cocktails and bottles of The Balvenie rocking' the bar top.

Many a familiar face could be seen in and around the room and it was clear this was a crowd selected for the celberation of all things Balvenie and not your duck out of water PR scrum. No Balvenie would be the same without the man of hour, master of ceremony, Whisky Specialist for William Grant and Sons Australia, James Buntin. Also going by the name The Whisky Ambassador you know anytime this man is on the stage or even near an event with a sniff of whisky in the air your up for a good time. It came as a bit of a sad moment though when James announced he is moving back to the motherland to become the UK’s brand ambassador for The Balvenie. We can hold Sam Simons, the Global Brand Ambasador for The Balvenie aka Dr Whisky responsible for this poaching but we know he is staying in the company so only good things can come. On questioning Sam (that night over twitter) about this devious plot his response was simple “Haha... indeed. The good get got. We're happy”. In saying that I think James was more proud of the car he gets to drive than the step up and move back to the UK.

Mark Little photo bombing again
Serving at the bar was: The Balvenie 12yo Doublewood; The Balvenie 14yo Caribbean Cask (on display at first and for dramming later in the evening); The Balvenie 17yo Doublewood; The Balvenie 21yo Portwood (on special request). If you were not up for straight Balvenie (lord knows why) then there were 2 cocktails being served throughout the evening. These cocktail’s created by Dick Blanchard, used combined The Balvenie 12yo Doublewood with various other ingredients into either a sophisticated take on the Dark & Stormy, and or why not go for The Balvenie Beachcomber. Now I use the term created a bit loosely as Dick mentioned one too many times throughout the evening that he did not really remember creating them let alone if they were going to taste any good. Well lucky for him they turned out just cracking.

Steel drums, whisky, and chow
A steel drum band was playing in the corner making the most of the limited space available while creating a very amazing sound as it reverberated throughout the brick walled spaces. The theme of the night of was all about artisan craftsmanship so as expected a presentation was later delivered by one of the few steel drum builders in Australia, Charles Moller, on the history and specialised techniques required to build a steel drum. Never to be a night without a laugh several times when Mr Buntin made the link between the Caribbean rum casks and artisan craftsmanship ie. the steel drum construction, Charles would interject and insist the steel drums came from Trinidad, NOT Cuba. You just could not plan for something so humours. I distinctly remember someone to my right shout "tough crowd" causing a good old laugh at our presenters expense.

Cocktails and presentations
Amongst the drams came James’s presentation and short that normal tasting of The Balvenie 14yo Caribbean Cask. Well we did get to the part about the whisky and some of the story behind it then at some point James we skipped any official level of tasting for us whisky nerds and concluded with a one off bottoms up. But, but, but… what about my notes. Bugger this I thought. In dash I confirmed with fellow partakers I did not somehow miss the sordid details of the tasting and so I pulled James aside for a quick one on one to hastily draft up some extra details. I am sure he just took the time to come over to hit on my wife (again) but what can you say to a man with a beard like that? Word is Master Blender David Stewart has first sourced the barrels before creating a blend of several rums (David is a bit of a rum fiend when not blending whisky according to James) to then go into the barrels and season the wood for an undisclosed time. Later the rum is removed to make way for the already aged 14yo Balvenie to be finished in these barrels for an additional undisclosed amount of time. To me the profile is really delicious with a taste that was exceptionally west and smooth. Honey cream nose with a peanut spice scent. Taste of white sugar, honey, caramel oaks and a lingering spice followed by a long warming finish. I will leave a more detailed analysis for a separate post.

Closure to the night saw my 2 finger thick dram of The Balvenie 21yo tipped down the sink by the over eager bar staff while I was in converse. A tragedy in itself I was consoled by a couple more drams of the 14yo. We should be seeing The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask in stores very soon if not by the time this post is live so I certainly implore you to take a leap of faith and by it before you try as it is an delicious single malt. As Sam says “the good get got” and I certainly will be getting some of this sweet booty.

Thanks to The Balevnie, William Grant & Sons, and Weber Shandwick for the opportunity. Hope to see you again soon.

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was invited as a guest this event. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.