I found and bought my first bottle of The Balvenie a few years ago when I was staying in Topsham, in Devon, England. A good friend had given me her quayside house for a week of writing, a quaint stone house on a cobblestone street, big windows that look out on the River Exe, and a nice big fireplace. Lucky me! There was only one thing missing. The whisky.
So I wandered up the cobblestone street, and finally I found a corner liquor shop. Unfortunately, the friendly shopkeep frowned upon my choice of whisky, the peaty Islay Lagavulin 16 year, and scoffed when I told him how much I liked it. “I don’t even carry that stuff!”
“So, Mr. Whisky Snob, what would you recommend?” The ‘Whisky Snob’ part was pronounced like the ‘x’ in ‘silencieux’. I.e. silently.
He pulled out a bottle of The Balvenie Doublewood. “No peat, thank god, just smooth with a sweet finish.” I had the feeling that his silent ‘x’ consisted of ‘Ignorant American Novice’ or maybe something worse, but he said it with a smile. Fine, I took a bottle.
Turned out he was right. Not about the Lagavulin, which I still love, but about the smooth Balvenie. I’ve tried various other whiskies from The Balvenie line, but this was and is my going favorite.
So, thank you, friendly Topsham shopkeep, for broadening my horizons!