The Balvenie Stories

Nicki Alchin
30th Jun 2019

If you, like us at Sydney Scoop, take note of the trends that take the fancy of this great city, you will be aware that Scotch whisky is currently experiencing a renaissance here. You only have to look at the bars now paying homage to this spirit for evidence. For example, in Newtown you have the likes of Webster's, in the city the revamped bar at The Sir Stamford, Circular Quay - The Highlander, and of course the new man about town bar, Esquire Drink and Dine at the QVB.

With a springing up of such whisky haunts, there is no doubt that Sydney's curiosity and fervour to enjoy the finest in food and beverage has well and truly translated into a love affair with this golden magical nectar. This phenomenon has been fuelled by the rediscovery of Scotch being a purveyor of quality and prestige but is also most importantly, a product veiled in mystery, being made with passion and a somewhat spontaneous quantity of experimentation.

As a sophisticated audience, Sydney appreciates the significant role that timing, human intervention and ingredients play in bringing out different taste sensations. Funnily enough, Sydneysiders also appreciate a good story. You know, the kind that envelop and surround great achievements like Bondy winning the America's Cup for Australia back in the 80s, the wonderful strength to strength career of the legendary racehorse Winx, and the crowning of Australian tennis champion Ash Barty as the World Number 1 Ranked female player.

The Scotch whisky world is full of stories as equally glorious due in part to the mystical interaction of timing, ingredients and human touch and passion during the distillation process, but also the people involved in making it.

Balvenie Scotch Whisky recognises all the reasons why whisky is riding a wave of popularity right now. This is exactly why, on a cold, wet wintery Sydney June night, Ross Blainey the Balvenie Brand Ambassador Australia and New Zealand, called upon a lucky select few to gather at the salubrious yet cosy House of Merivale to taste and enjoy the drama behind the making of three of its exclusively crafted singke malt whiskies that comprise the new Balvenie Stories Whisky range from the Balvenie Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland in addition to sharing via podcasts, the stories of the individuals behind the scenes. We heard all about each of the trio from Malt Masters Kelsey McKechnie and David Stewart MBE, and former distillery manager Ian Millar, alongside the Balvenie Global Ambassador, Gemma Paterson and other key players at the Balvenie Distillery. Ross, a wonderful story teller in his own right, helped to embellish these tales.

For those new to the Scotch whisky scene, it is worth noting that Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky is produced by William Grant & Sons Ltd, an award-winning independent family-owned distiller founded by William Grant in 1886 and today run by his direct descendants. The Balvenie Stories trio collection celebrates the history, drama and humanity behind Balvenie Scotch whisky. Their creation is a salute to the skill, knowledge and passion inherent in crafting a unique quality product.

Purchasers of the Balvenie Stories will also be able to listen into the tales. Via NFC-enabled tags on each bottle of The Balvenie Stories range, whisky lovers can use their smartphone to go on an audio journey. Guided audio whisky tastings of each expression will also be available, conducted by Stewart and McKechnie.

This Balvenie Stories range is as follows:

The Sweet Toast of American Oak – Aged 12 Years – 43% ABV

This is the story of the spectacular things that can happen when ancient technique meets fresh ideas. When newly appointed Apprentice Malt Master experimented with twice-toasted white American oak from Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky it produced an even fruitier, sweeter tasting Balvenie.

The Week of Peat – Aged 14 Years – 48.3% ABV

An evolution of The Balvenie Peat Week Aged 14 Years, which launched globally in 2017. This expression tells the tale of Malt Master David Stewart MBE and former distillery manager Ian Millar using a week’s gap in the distillery’s production schedule to experiment with peat in the barley drying process. The result is a classic Balvenie expression with honey, vanilla and citrus notes with an extra layer of delicate smokiness.

A Day of Dark Barley – Aged 26 Years – 47.8% ABV

The story of Malt Master David Stewart MBE and The Balvenie’s malt men experimenting with a heavily roasted dark barley in 1992. The resulting liquid was originally released in 2006 as the 14-Year-Old Balvenie Roasted Malt, however casks were retained for extra maturation, eventually becoming a classic aged Balvenie, but with extra depth and oak notes gleaned from the darker malt.

The notion of storytelling informs the design of The Balvenie Stories packaging too, with each tale represented visually on the whisky’s tube and label in bespoke illustrations from British artist and printmaker Andy Lovell. Lovell’s work draws its inspiration direct from the distillery, where he spent time listening to the stories first-hand, before using his bold, hand-made gestural technique to build up images that capture the essence of each tale.

The Balvenie Stories collection will be available in select premium bars and whisky venues nationally and from 1 August at Dan Murphy’s; The Sweet Toast of American Oak (RRP $110), The Week of Peat (RRP $150) and A Day of Dark Barley (RRP $1,050).

To learn more about The Balvenie Stories collection, head online to