There must be a whole lot of old whisky aging in the warehouses at Scotland’s Balvenie distillery, because the brand just announced a trio of decades-old, high-end releases as part of its ongoing Stories Range. The pinnacle bottle is a 42-year-old single malt inspired by a tool workers once used to use to siphon off a furtive dram from barrels in those warehouses.
The Tale of the Dog is the name of this whisky, but it’s referring to something called a copper dog instead of our canine friends. A copper dog is a cylinder-shaped tool that workers would use to sneak a dram from the casks aging in the warehouses, small enough to secret away in their clothing and bring some whisky home to enjoy at the end of the day. Balvenie coppersmith Dennis McBain inspired the name of this whisky with his memory of working at the distillery as an apprentice half a century ago when he was asked to flatten a copper dog and leave it so its owner could find it later. This was meant as a signal to the person in question that his plan had been uncovered, and perhaps he’d think twice before “taking a dog for a walk,” as it was known, the next time he was thirsty. Nowadays, copper dogs are celebrated and often used to pour a dram for visitors to the distillery, particularly in the historic warehouse 24.
The Tale of the Dog is a 42-year-old single malt that, according to the distillery’s tasting notes, balances sweet date and toffee flavors with light honey spice and oak. There are two other whiskies that are new additions to the Stories Range as well. The first is The Second Red Rose, a 21-year-old single malt matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Australian shiraz red wine casks. This whisky is said to be inspired by a previous release, the distillery-exclusive Balvenie Rose from 2008 which was a 16-year-old finished in port pipes. The second new release is A Rare Discovery From Distant Shores, a 27-year-old single malt finished in ex-Caroni rum casks from Trinidad and Tobago—really, a long secondary maturation since the whisky spent about seven years in these barrels.
“The Balvenie Stories range brings to life our whisky, our makers and our distillery, sharing the stories of how these unique whiskies came into being,” said malt master David C. Stewart MBE in a statement. “These stories are an important part of The Balvenie, being the way that we pass information from one generation of makers to the next.” These stories are particularly important to Stewart, as he has spent 60 years at the distillery and his role will soon be taken over by Kelsey McKechnie as we recently reported. Surely there will be more stories to tell, but for now you can find these new whiskies at select retailers around the country with prices as listed: The Second Red Rose ($459.99); A Rare Discovery from Distant Shores ($1,500); and The Tale of the Dog ($14,500).