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By Alex Martin | December 31 2019
Scotch whisky specialists The Balvenie has rounded off the decade in fine style with the second release in its coveted Marriage Series. Named ‘The Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0197′, the new release is a fine example of Malt Master David Stewart’s unique skill in marrying rare and precious whisky.
The liquid is a further enhancement of the original Marriage 0962, which was released last year and is drawn from four casks. Marriage 0197 complements it with one further cask added to an already exceptional blend. All five of the casks have been aged for 50 years or more and display extreme variances in taste, strength and depth of flavor.
The Balvenie has cut a reputation for 50-year-old variants, releasing its first in 1987. Then, in 2012, 83 bottles were taken from the legendary Cask 191 – its last remaining casks from the 1950s. This latest release is the result of the encyclopedic knowledge and a patient selection process from Stewart.
“It takes a great deal of patience to create a liquid as unique and delicate as Marriage 0197, but the most challenging tasks are often the most rewarding,” Stewart said upon its release.
“Marrying whisky stocks of this age is a complex art that not only continues to challenge me after 57 years in the business but also affords me the opportunity to explore and experiment with some of our most precious aged stocks. The difference between Marriage 0197 and 0962 is only one cask, yet there is an incredible distinction amongst the two expressions.
“The addition of cask 9920 has added an extra level of depth and intensity, with tobacco & sweet leather initially warming the palate, closely followed by rich, sweet, citrus oak. It has been a real joy to work with some of The Balvenie’s oldest stock once again and it’s an honor to be able to share such a unique whisky with the world.”
Bottled at 42.0 percent ABV, Marriage 0197 is rich and deep on the nose with an abundance of oak tannins, dark fruits, bitter chocolate and intense spice, according to The Balvenie’s official release. A malty sweetness and spicy outburst with hints of honey and dark chocolate impart a big bold character, whilst a rich spiced finish features a luscious oak sweetness.
Each bottle is presented in a handcrafted wooden tube crafted by artisan craftsman in Elgin, Scotland. Sam Chinnery was commissioned to make a beautiful container comprised of 50 layers, 48 of walnut and two of brass. The brass top doubles up as a certificate and is inscribed with the bottle’s unique number and the cask numbers.
The Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0197 is available globally and within the US for $38,000.