Born in December 1839, William Grant became a cattle herder at the age of 7 in order to supplement his family's income. As a teenager, Grant apprenticed as a cobbler and a clerk, and in 1866, he joined Mortlach Distillery as a bookkeeper. For the next two decades, Grant managed the affairs at the distillery, while secretly learning the art of distillation. In 1886, he resigned from his position as distillery manager and bought a field beneath the towering shadows of Balvenie Castle, which he eventually converted into Balvenie Distillery. Today, Balvenie Distillery, situated in the Speyside region of Scotland, remains one of the most independent and prestigious distilleries in all of Scotland.
Balvenie Single Malt Whisky is made from fresh, plump barley grown on Balvenie Mains, a 1,000 acre farm situated adjacent to the distillery (the farm has been the distillery's source for barley for over a century). After the barley is harvested, it is malted at the distillery with spring water sourced from the rolling Speyside hills that overlook the distillery. During the malting process, the barley is turned up to four times a day in order to ensure that it germinates evenly (Balvenie is the only single malt Scotch whisky distillery that continues to grow and malt its own barley).
Once the barley has been malted, it is milled and mashed at the distillery before being fermented using a proprietary strain of yeast. Following fermentation, the wash is distilled twice, first through Balvenie's copper-pot wash still and then again through its copper-pot spirit still. "The most important reason for using a copper still," explains Dennis McBain, Balvenie's coppersmith, "is that it acts as a catalyst. It removes any sulphur which may be carried over from the fermentation process prior to distillation." McBain, who joined Balvenie Distillery in 1959, is one of the oldest coppersmiths remaining in the industry.
In addition, the size and shape of Balvenie's stills — the stills' necks have unique boil balls that are nicknamed "Balvenie Bowls" — results in Balvenie's signature bold and malty flavor profile. "The size and shape of the boil ball allow for the vapors to mix before continuing up the head," explains McBain. "That helps make The Balvenie special."
Following distillation, The Balvenie 30 Year Old Single Barrel Scotch Whisky is matured in a combination of American oak casks that were previously used to mature bourbon and European oak casks that were previously used to mature sherry. The whisky has an aroma of mead, almonds, coffee and roasted pork that gives way to notes of raisins, honey, sherry and dark caramel. The finish is mellow and sweet, with hints of goat cheese, milk chocolate and Christmas cake.
Balvenie 30 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky earned the Double Gold Medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and earned a perfect score from Wine Enthusiast.