The Balvenie Portwood 21: A Highly Desirable Scotch

This Scotch has a clean, crisp final note and remarkable smoothness throughout

This Scotch has a clean, crisp final note and remarkable smoothness throughout.

The Balvenie, a range of Single Malt Scotches from the Speyside region of Scotland, features a diverse portfolio. If you’re a Scotch lover they likely have something in their range to suit your palate. The commonality to me is the attention to detail that helps them to achieve the quality and consistency their name evokes. Among the things that set The Balvenie apart are the strict controls they retain over several aspects of the production process. Growing their own barley and employing their own staff of coopers to handle every cask are but two examples. I’ve been a fan of the Balvenie range for quite a while now, and the 12 Year Old DoubleWood is one I go to on a regular basis. Therefore it’s always interesting to taste the rare, more sought-after examples in their range. Amongst those the Balvenie Portwood 21 is a highly desirable Scotch produced in limited quantities.

The Balvenie Portwood was aged for 21 years. After spending time in whisky barrels, a selection of rare Balvenie whiskies are transferred to casks that were previously utilized to age port. The Balvenie malt master tastes it regularly so that it can be removed to bottle once the desired amount of port influence has been achieved. This single malt scotch most often sells for right around $170. A huge nose loaded with apricot and oatmeal is laced with a gentle hint of licorice. From the first sip the depth and purity of flavors is readily apparent. Peaches, white fig, continued apricot, and spices galore are all part of a generous, complex palate. Bits of honey emerge on the persistent, generous and deeply flavored finish which goes on and on gloriously. Hints of maple syrup also creep in and add to the hints of sweetness that are apparent throughout. This Scotch has a clean, crisp final note and remarkable smoothness throughout. There isn’t a thing here not to love.


The Balvenie Portwood 21 is an absolutely outstanding single malt that any Scotch lover should be yearning to drink. If you’re building a collection of Scotches to savor over time you want to have some diversity. I believe a collection of that sort should include expressions with different finishes, as well as bottles that have aged for varying amounts of time. A 21-year-old Scotch is a special occasion dram for most people; that said, if you’re in the market for one, The Balvenie Portwood is one of the greatest.