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Bespoke design for twin Balvenie 50 YO launch

Two new releases of The Balvenie Fifty single malt Scotch whisky are judged to be of such rare quality that they have been presented in specially designed packs handmade by Scottish craftsman Sam Chinnery.

Launching in markets around the world in September 2014, with a recommended price of £26,500 per bottle, the two bottlings – taken from casks 4567 and 4570 in The Balvenie Distillery’s famed Warehouse 24 – are described as being markedly different in character and colour, despite their near-identical origins.

The individual characteristics of the two whiskies are reflected in the design of their special wooden cases.

The hand-blown glass bottles, made by Scotland-based Glasstorm, are housed in cylindrical outer packs consisting of forty-nine layers of differently coloured wood and a closing layer in brass, designed to echo the fittings of the distillery’s stills and spirit safes.

Beautifully handcrafted by specialist furniture designer Sam Chinnery, one box is darker in colour than the other, to reflect the difference in appearance of the liquids.

The woods used in their manufacture come from Scottish-grown Galloway Ash, Boarders Oak, Lothian Walnut, Cherry, Yew, Fife Beech and Banffshire Elm from the site of The Balvenie Distillery.

Filled from the same distillation on the same day, the two whiskies were laid in similar European oak hogsheads on 28 May 1963, the year after The Balvenie’s malt master, David Stewart, joined the company.

Commenting on the release, Stewart said: “It’s rare that one 50 year-old whisky ages beautifully over time, but for two that were distilled on the very same day to mature into such exceptional expressions is something very special.

“The effect of maturation on the final character of a whisky is widely known and becoming better understood, yet it still has an air of mystery around it.”

Bottled at 45.4% abv, only 131 bottles of The Balvenie Fifty Cask 4567 were filled. The whisky is described as having a deep reddish hue and a full taste characterised by dark fruits and spice, as expected of the European oak cask in which the whiskies were matured.

Just 128 bottles of The Balvenie Fifty Cask 4570 were filled, at 45.9% abv, and the whisky is described as possessing a rich golden hue and a “remarkable” elegant oak and vanilla sweetness.

“Both are among the most complex, elegant and fine whiskies ever to be released from Warehouse 24, the home of our oldest and rarest whiskies,” Stewart remarks.

15 September 2014 - David Longfield