Balvenie TUN 1509 Batch 1 Review

The TUN 1509 is the replacement for the much beloved TUN 1401 that ended its run with batch 9 a couple years back. The 1509 TUN is much larger (it’s basically a giant tank where they vat several casks). The 1509 is made up of 35 ex-bourbon casks and 7 sherry butts and is NAS just like it’s older brother the 1401.

Nose: Spiced honey and vanilla oak. Strawberries, bananas, cereal, old damp oak. Sherry influence adds a bit of brightness without making it overly sweet.

Palate: Peppery malt, dark stewed fruits with very old oak, slight sherry sweetness with some acidity as well.

Finish: Rich sherry seasoned oak with black cherry and honey.

Rating: 93/100 – Not quite as good as the TUN 1401 batch 3 or 9, but very close for me. The mouthfeel is a big letdown compared to those old TUNs though as they were like liquid velvet and this one is quite thin.

Value for the money: These retailed around $350 which was higher than retail for TUN 1401. If you really want a TUN, I’d save up more and buy a TUN 1401 batch 9 instead.

Balvenie TUN 1401 Batch 3 Review

The TUN 1401 series were a legendary Balvenie line of bottlings that spanned 9 batches. The only batches that were sold in the US were batches 3, 6, and 9 with 9 being the last batch produced in the TUN 1401 series. After shuttering the series, Balvenie built a larger TUN and debuted TUN 1509 which is now on its second batch. The tun is essentially a giant vat where Balvenie can combine many different barrels. Batch 3 is often regarded as the best of the US batches (and is the most expensive of course).

Nose: Powerful trio of sherry, rich/old oak, and honey start off nose. Floral notes come in with pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, mint, and nutmeg. I find this to be much more oak heavy and darker compared to batch 9.

Palate: Very malty up front – a true spice bomb with pepper, mint, cinnamon, and clove continuning. Very oaky on rear palate with cocoa and sherry.

Finish: Sherry intensifies alongside cocoa and oak. Spices continue to dance around on the tongue.

Rating: 94/100 – Fantastic malt – I love both batch 9 and 3, but think I might prefer 9 a bit more just due to its overall brightness. This is more of a spice/oak bomb for me, but very complex.

Value for the money: I think these are over $1,000 now on the secondary by a decent margin, and I don’t think it’s worth that much honestly as it’s competing with some pretty incredible bottles at that price.

Balvenie 17 Doublewood Review

This is a 17 year Balvenie expression that was aged in an ex-bourbon cask before being finished for under a year in a sherry cask and bottled at 43%.

Nose: Strong oak with pepper and tar. Sherry influence is barely noticeable, but present. Cardamom and cinnamon.

Palate: Very light and floral with brown sugar and strawberries with grapes, honey, and lavender emerging over time.

Finish: Lots of earthy, damp oak with mushrooms and pepper.

Rating: 80/100 – The 43% ABV really holds this one back I suspect – very lacking at times feeling a bit hollow.

Value for the money: This retails for around $150 which is absurd – should be priced around $50-$60 based on quality.

Balvenie 14 Carribean Cask Review

This is a 14 year old Balvenie expression that was finished in Carribean rum casks and bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: Honeyed malt with cane sugar. Very rum like with dry oak and molasses.

Palate: Slightly bitter with heather, strong malt profile, and a kick of pepper.

Finish: Very little to no finish – hint of cane sugar remains with the oak.

Rating: 76/100 – Rum finish is interesting but otherwise remains fairly uninteresting.

Value for the money: This runs around $65-$75 but I would pass on it at that price.

Balvenie 12 First Fill Review

This is a 12 year old Balvenie expression aged in a first-fill bourbon cask and bottled at 47.8% ABV.

Nose: Fruity with raisins and honey, honey dew melon and vanilla.

Palate: Honeyed malt with biscuits, young oak, black pepper, and beef jerky.

Finish: Raisins and peppery malt with young oak.

Rating: 82/100 – Light nose and somewhat interesting palate – becomes more uninteresting the longer you drink it.

Value for the money: This retails around $70, but I think $45 is more appropriate for what it offers.

Balvenie TUN 1401 Batch 6 Review

The TUN 1401 series were a legendary Balvenie line of bottlings that spanned 9 batches. The only batches that were sold in the US were batches 3, 6, and 9 with 9 being the last batch produced in the TUN 1401 series. After shuttering the series, Balvenie built a larger TUN and debuted TUN 1509 which is now on its second batch. The tun is essentially a giant vat where Balvenie can combine many different barrels. This is batch 6 which is bottled at 49.8%.

Nose: Old, weathered oak coated with a syrupy sherry. Dollop of honey with brine, pears, smoked fish, and dried hay.

Palate: Sharp oak up front with sweet sherry and tart berries. Oak intensifies in rear palate with cocoa and peanuts.

Finish: Spiced malt with bitter, earthy oak – rather astringent.

Rating: 92/100 – Not quite as good as the batch 3 and batch 9, but still a solid dram.

Value for the money: It retailed for around $250 which is a little over what I’d want to pay, but secondary is closer to $500+ these days which is too much.

Balvenie 17 Peated Cask Review

This is a 17 year old Balvenie expression that was aged in a cask that previously held a peated whisky and bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: Minimal peat and smoke with sawdust and ether surrounded by mineral laced malt.

Palate: Peat with spearmint, parsley, tobacco, light malt and heather – light and airy overall.

Finish: Sour malt with bitter greens, oak, and tobacco smoke.

Rating: 78/100 – Peat is very minimal here – seems more of a marketing gimmick than something that actually differentiates it from the 17 Doublewood.

Value for the money: I see these around $90-$120 which is an easy pass – I wouldn’t pay more than $30-$40 for this.

Balvenie 21 Portwood Review

This is a core expression from Balvenie that’s finished in thirty year old port pipes and bottled at 40% ABV.

Nose: Loads of honey with spiced malt and strawberries. Port is present, but remains fairly minimal for me. Slightly damp, charred oak note towards the end.

Palate: Port way more evident here with a bit of a stale vanilla profile surrounding the malt.

Finish: Dry, sweet oak with subtle fruits and toffee

Rating: 85/100 – Good, but the low proof really holds this one back. It’s very approachable and for that reason is probably a lot of newer scotch drinker’s first big bottle purchase (also due to its prevalence at liquor stores).

Value for the money: These tend to vary a lot by region, but typically close to $200. It’s too big of an ask either way as I’d peg this one closer to $80-$100.

Balvenie 15 Sherry Cask Review

Balvenie 15 Sherry Cask replaced the old Balvenie 15 single barrel expression a year or two ago. This 15 year old is full matured in a sherry cask and bottled at 47.8%.

Nose: Striking oak swirling with strong mint, very sweet sherry (almost a PX type sweetness), honey, tobacco smoke, and cantaloupe.

Palate: Pure sherry up front with a dry oak, a bit of smoke, and some ripe bananas.

Finish: Subtle overall with black pepper, banana, and sherry combining for a nice sweet/spicy combo.

Rating: 88/100 – A solid offering from Balvenie if you like rich sherry malts – not quite a sherry bomb, but the full sherry cask maturation stands out.

Value for the money: These retail for around $100-115 which is a bit steep. I’d be a repeat consumer in the $60-$70 range.

Balvenie TUN 1401 Batch 9 Review

The TUN 1401 series were a legendary Balvenie line of bottlings that spanned 9 batches. The only batches that were sold in the US were batches 3, 6, and 9 with 9 being the last batch produced in the TUN 1401 series. After shuttering the series, Balvenie built a larger TUN and debuted TUN 1509 which is now on its second batch. The tun is essentially a giant vat where Balvenie can combine many different barrels. The label includes the cask numbers of the various casks that went into this particular vatting.

Nose: Clean and crisp sherry notes but not overly sweet. Dark chocolate with rich malt, blood oranges, and dried fruits. Slightly nutty overall and a bit of pumpkin spice if you dig enough.

Palate: Malt is surprisingly strong up front given the heavy sherry influence. Mouthfeel is thick and velvety. Pepper, brine, and honey round out the palate.

Finish: Finish is sweeping and long lasting with the grain really shining. Finish is almost more intense than the palate. Nutty notes remain with a bit of tobacco surfacing – one of the longest finishes of any malt I’ve had.

Rating: 94/100 – one of my very favorite drams and my favorite of the US releases of the TUN 1401 bottlings. Most people tend to prefer batch 3, but I’m in the minority that finds 9 to be the best of the three.

Value for the money: These have become very spendy due to their reputation and the series being discontinued. These will likely run you $500+ at the moment, and I can’t say they’re worth that, but if you have a chance to try this at a bar, I’d highly recommend spending the money there to be able to try it.