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The Balvenie unveils Week of Peat 17 Years Old

The new peated The Balvenie expression is currently only available on William Grant & Sons’ new ecommerce platform Clink
By Joe Bates
The Balvenie Week of Peat 17 Years Old
The Balvenie Week of Peat 17 Years Old
William Grant & Sons has launched The Balvenie Week of Peat 17 Years Old, the latest addition to the distillery’s Stories Range, for a limited period and exclusively on the family-owned company’s new e-commerce platform Clink.

The Balvenie Week of Peat 17 Years Old is the latest whisky in the distillery’s Stories Range, which celebrates “human stories of endeavour” and “unexpected twists” associated with the distillery. It’s also the second peated expression to be released by The Balvenie since 2002, when former distillery manager Ian Millar started making peated whisky at the Speyside distillery on an annual basis. The first ‘Week of Peat’ whisky release was The Balvenie Week of Peat 14 Years Old, which launched globally in 2019.

The new The Balvenie Week of Peat 17 Years Old has been matured in ex-American bourbon barrels and is bottled at 49.4% ABV. It’s priced at £115 on Clink, and available only in the UK.

According to The Balvenie global brand ambassador Gemma Paterson, it is a more mellow whisky than the earlier 2019 release. “You can see [that] the additional three years [of ageing] have mellowed out the peat even more,” she explained at a virtual launch event for the whisky held earlier this month. “The whisky is quite soft. It’s evolving. You’ve got this wisp of peat and then you’ve got lovely, complex layers. There are floral notes to discover, and tropical fruit notes too. You have to take your time to nose it and taste it; I think it’s a really wonderful example of The Balvenie.”
Gemma Paterson

Paterson explained that Millar was originally inspired to experiment with making peated whisky at The Balvenie because the distillery is one of the few in Scotland to boast its own traditional floor malting. “Ian was incredibly excited by this. He saw the malting as this playground for experimentation. He called the malting a ‘big toy’.”

Millar went on a fact-finding mission to Islay to learn more about making peated whisky. On his return, he ordered a batch of Speyside peat for the kiln and built a peat burner. He identified a week’s gap in the distillery’s production schedule before it was closed for annual maintenance to be the ideal time for peat week.

Two distillery workers heavily involved with the peat week project were mashman Brian Webster and maltman Robbie Gormley, both now retired. Paterson described the two men as “legendary folks” at the distillery. Webster famously cooked a duck in the kiln at The Balvenie, while Gormley, a talented poet and songwriter, memorably wrote a poem about the distillery’s resident ghost, the Green Lady.

“Brian likes to call the week of peat that ‘stinking stuff’,” said Paterson. “He would stick his head out of the window of the mash house he would smell the peat reek billowing across the courtyard. He talks about the peaty mash and the peaty wash and how everything was reeking of peat.”

William Grant & Sons’ new e-commerce platform Clink is initially selling The Balvenie Week of Peat 17 Years Old exclusively, before a wider roll out later in the year. Clink had a soft launch in June and stocks William Grant & Sons’ entire spirits portfolio; the site was developed in collaboration with THG Ingenuity, a firm specialising in the development of direct-to-consumer ecommerce platforms.
Dominic Parfitt

According to William Grant & Sons’ head of e-commerce Dominic Parfitt, sales on the site had picked up well since the launch of the new The Balvenie release. Parfitt said that the company was keen to offer shoppers added value and services not offered by other online retailers, such as exclusive products and a live chat function in which questions about brands could be answered within 25 seconds by a customer services representative.

“Giving access to exclusive products like The Balvenie Week of Peat 17 Years Old is exactly what our new shopping site Clink is all about,” he added. “As we gain insights into shoppers’ habits, we want to offer them exclusive access to our spirits, as well as virtual access to the distilleries and behind-the-scenes-footage, and all the ingredients they need for drinks and cocktails in a one-stop-shop.”