The Balvenie Founder’s Reserve was launched in the 1980’s as the entry-point for the distillery’s core range of single malt whiskies. Much missed by many malt enthusiasts, it was discontinued around a decade ago and replaced by the Balvenie 12 year old Signature series, which ran for five batches over five years before being discontinued itself in 2010.
The Founder’s Reserve 10 year old is a marriage of both bourbon and sherry cask matured whisky. Interestingly whilst being bottled at 40% in some countries, it was available in others at 43%.
Nose: Starting with fresh orchard fruits, this also has some lovely tropical notes of pineapple and stonefruit aromas of peaches. Quite the fruit salad. Behind this, golden malts, lots of honey and some bakery in the form of flans and tarts. In the background, candied orange peels, honeycomb and cloves.
Taste: A reasonable mouthfeel for 40%, though as is often the case, one wondered who the definition might be improved with a bit more oomph. Oodles of honey start us on our journey that takes in ripe apples, light vanilla and some gentle florals. There’s some sweet and sour tropical fruit here – pineapple again, but also overripe bananas. Cloves reveal themselves once more and are supported by a grind of white pepper and dustiness.
Finish: Short to medium, slightly floral, really pleasantly drying and still with lots of honey. A really great finish here.
Balvenie Founders Reserve 10 year old is a fairly straight-forward whisky - but it’s a very tasty one at that. There’s a lovely mix of fruit salad, honey, bakery and gentle spicing here that all makes for an easy-drinking, but well balanced whisky with a really rather wonderful back palate and finish. I tasted this side-by-side with the 12 year old Doublewood for a little experiment, and have to say that overall I prefer this older bottling - they’re both very evocative of the Speyside style, but there’s a mite more nuance and poise in the discontinued 10 year old. Alas, this seems to shift for an almost ungodly amount of money at auctions nowadays (especially the limited edition cognac style bottle version) – and the liquid itself is not worth anywhere near that much. But, if you happen to spot this hidden away on the back shelf of a bar, it’s well worth an exploratory dram.