Balvenie 12 vs 14

Balvenie 12 vs 14 | Which whisky will come out on top?

Balvenie 12 vs 14, is quite the comparison, I’m a massive fan of both of these whiskies so choosing between the two will be quite the task. Balvenie was the first distillery that opened my eyes to this world of flavour.

I recently had the pleasure of trying out both the Balvenie 12 and 14. And they are both winners in their own right.

I still clearly remember the time I had my first-ever whisky, the Balvenie 12. Before, I didn’t quite like its nose. And I didn’t quite understand its profile. But now, it is like a warm, inviting embrace, a mix of honey, vanilla, and a hint of fruit. It is sweet, but not overly so, and it had a depth that made me want to dive in and explore.

Fast forward to when I took my first sip, I was greeted by a smooth, mellow taste. It has notes of nutmeg and cinnamon playing alongside the sweetness of the honey and vanilla I had smelled earlier. The finish was long and warm like a gentle reminder.

But let’s not forget its contender, the older sibling Balvenie 14. It’s different altogether but in the best possible way. The smell is more complex—with the sweetness of the 12-Year Old replaced by a more mature, refined aroma. There’s a hint of the sea in there, a touch of saltiness that’s perfectly balanced by the smell of ripe, juicy fruit.

The taste is where the Balvenie 14 really had me. There’s a hint of spice, a touch of oak, and a sweetness that’s more subtle than the 12. The finish is longer, lingering on the palate and leaving a lasting impression.

Both are unique. And I’m grateful to have experienced the distillery’s prowess in my life. The Balvenie 12 was my first step into the world of whisky, and the Balvenie 14 is proof of how far I’ve come. 

And for that reason, I’ll be bringing the pieces all together so you can decide which of these siblings fits best for your preference (and mine as well).

Balvenie 12 vs 14: Quick Look Comparison

Balvenie 12 year Doublewood

Balvenie 12 Doublewood

NoseHoneyed, Fruity, Floral
PalateMalty, Nutty, Caramel
MouthfeelSmooth, Rich, Medium-bodied
FinishLingering, Oaky, Spiced
Age12 years
Cask/BarrelsAmerican oak, Bourbon, Refill
Strength40% ABV
Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask

Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask

NoseTropical, Vanilla, Citrus
PalateCreamy, Spiced, Sweet
MouthfeelOily, Full-bodied, Luxurious
FinishLong, Warming, Oaky
Age14 years
Cask/BarrelsRum cask, Re-charred, Ex-bourbon
Strength43% ABV

Balvenie 12 vs 14: Balvenie 12 Review

The Balvenie 12 is a real treat. It’s got this unique smell that’s hard to forget. Imagine a mix of nuttiness and spices, with a sweet hint of honey, sultanas, and grapes. It’s like walking into a bakery early in the morning when everything’s fresh and warm. The aroma is so inviting, it’s like a warm welcome, beckoning you to take a sip.

Now, let’s talk about the taste. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. You can taste the bourbon characters, a little bit of spice, and a whisper of vanilla. There’s also a hint of peat, but it’s quiet like it’s hiding under layers of dried fruit, nuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It’s a complex flavour, but it all comes together beautifully. 

The finish? It’s spicy and a bit dry, but still sweet. It’s like the last bite of a cinnamon roll, leaving you satisfied but still wanting more. And it lingers on your palate. It’s a finish that makes you want to take another sip, to experience the symphony of flavours all over again.

If you’ve developed a fondness for the Balvenie 12, the Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old might come to mind. It’s a delightful dram that captures some of the same magic as the Balvenie 12. It has a fruity flavour profile with just a hint of spice. You may also want to consider the Macallan 12-Year-Old Double Cask since it has been aged using the DoubleWood process, just like the Balvenie 12.

Now, I’ve heard some people say that it’s a bit harsh on the nose. Some even think it’s been artificially colored. And its pale color might not be as appealing as the honey-colored whiskies you usually see. But for me, these are minor issues. The taste more than makes up for it. 

The Balvenie 12 is not the most expensive whisky out there—but it’s not cheap either. It’s somewhere in the middle, but it delivers a quality experience that feels like it should cost more. As of writing, it should be around £47 or $58. It’s like getting a first-class experience at a business-class price. 

And let’s not forget about its content: 40% ABV is where it’s at. Kind of a suitable bottle for someone who has had it for the first time before. And a bit weak for those looking for a more impactful sip.

Some people have noticed a change in taste over time. They think the newer bottles don’t taste as good as the older ones. I can’t say for sure. But even if that’s true, I still think the Balvenie 12 is worth a try. It’s a unique whisky that offers a lot for its price. And who knows? It might just become your new favorite.

Balvenie 12 vs 14: Balvenie 14 Review

When you get your first whiff of Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask, you’re greeted with an intriguing mix. Picture toffee, but rich and inviting. Now, think of fruits – not just any fruits, but the freshest you’ve ever sniffed. You may even catch a hint of sea salt.

Sounds strange, right? But it’s these unexpected aromas that make this whisky exciting.

Now, what gives it this scent? Rum casks. Yes, you heard right. Balvenie takes their 14-year-old Scotch whisky and lets it finish maturing in casks that once held Caribbean rum. These casks infuse the whisky with an enticing tropical twist. 

Suddenly, you get notes of toasted coconut, ripe bananas, and creamy vanilla. They blend seamlessly with the warm honey of the malt and a pinch of spice. It’s a thrilling blend of flavours that dance on your tongue. The finale? A finish that is warm, spicy, and long, reminding you of caramelized fruit.

You might be wondering, “Is there any other whisky like this?” Not really. Speyside does have a range of whiskies, such as the Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old Solera. Yes, it’s complex and balanced, just like Balvenie 14. But does it have the rum twist? No. That’s what makes the Balvenie 14 stand out.

So, let’s say you decide to buy a bottle. What’s in it for you? A taste adventure, that’s what. This is more than just sipping whisky. It’s about tasting the tale of two worlds. Imagine you’re in the Scottish highlands. It’s cold, rugged, yet beautiful. Suddenly, you’ve been whisked away to the Caribbean, where the sun’s shining and the beaches are inviting. These two vastly different places have come together, right in your glass.

Sure, every whisky has its pros and cons. And the Balvenie 14 is no exception. On the upside, its Caribbean cask finish is pretty unique. It adds a touch of the tropics to your drink, a change from the usual. But then, the sweetness might be a bit much for some. Especially for those who enjoy traditional Scotch and nothing else. Yet, if you’re in the mood to try something new, this could be your chance.

The beauty of Balvenie 14 lies in its aroma—full and vibrant. The flavours play out like a finely composed melody. The finish is memorable and stays with you. It’s different from what the distillery tells you. It’s not bold or in-your-face. It’s delicate and unfolds slowly. It’s easy on the tongue for a newbie but has enough depth for the experienced.

The rum cask finish is what sets Balvenie 14 apart from other whiskies. It’s an experiment that worked and a testament to Balvenie’s spirit of innovation.

It has an alcohol content of 43%. It’s strong enough for the experienced, but gentle enough for those just starting. It delivers flavour without being too much.

When it comes to cost, it’s around £67/$82. It’s more expensive than the basic whiskies but cheaper than the older or special editions. Is it worth the price? Considering its unique qualities and the effort put into making it, I’d say yes.

Balvenie 12 vs 14: The Comparison

Nose Comparison

Balvenie 12 DoubleWood has a mature scent. Imagine sweet fruit with a touch of Oloroso sherry. Then, there’s vanilla. It’s all thanks to the American oak barrels where it aged. It’s a gentle smell, easy on the nose. You’ll find it an inviting drink if you’re new to Scotch.

But Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask has a different aroma altogether. Picture a mix of tropical fruit. Mango, pineapple, and even a bit of coconut. They’re all there, along with the usual whisky hints of honey and vanilla. This tropical twist comes from the Caribbean rum casks used for the final maturation process. It’s a whisky with a nose that’s an exciting mix of traditional Scotch and tropical vibes.

Mouthfeel Comparison

The Balvenie 12 DoubleWood has a gentle mouthfeel. It’s like a smooth caress on your palate. Its medium-bodied texture is the right mix of creamy and light. You’ll find that it doesn’t overwhelm you—just flows softly.

Now, the Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask feels different in your mouth. It’s still smooth, but it has more substance. It has a full-bodied texture, a bit heavier than the 12-year-old version. You’ll feel it has a little bit more weight, but it remains easy on your palate.

Flavour Comparison

When it comes to taste, Balvenie 12 DoubleWood is a delight. Think of sweet dried fruits, nuts, and a dash of spices. You’ll get a strong start of fruitcake flavour, with honey and a bit of cinnamon. Then it mellows into a warm and prolonged finish, with hints of sultanas and nutmeg.

With Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask, the flavour journey goes exotic. The classic whisky tastes of honey and vanilla are there. But there’s more. You’ll get a surprise from demerara sugar, exotic spices, and tropical fruit undertones. It’s like a rum-infused twist to your traditional Scotch, giving a long-lasting and interesting finish.

ABV Comparison

If you’re just starting your journey, the Balvenie 12 DoubleWood would make a great choice. This whisky, with its alcohol by volume (ABV) content of 40%, is gentle on the palate. It’s light and smooth, which makes it a friendly introduction to Scotch. This allows you to experience the classic flavours without overwhelming you.

The Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask boasts a slightly higher ABV of 43%. What does that mean for you? Well, it’s all about taste. This has a richer, deeper flavour profile compared to the 12-year-old. The higher ABV gives it more intensity and complexity. It’s as if the flavours are turned up a notch, allowing you to experience whisky in a more profound way.

For those who have been savouring whisky for a while, the Balvenie 14 could be a fascinating pick. Why so? Experienced drinkers have developed the ability to discern the subtle nuances in whisky—something that the Balvenie 14 is full of—thanks to its higher ABV.

Food Pairings

For the Balvenie 12 DoubleWood, the primary characteristic you need to consider is its sweet taste profile. Dark chocolate, dried fruits, and cheese are excellent choices. The dark chocolate’s bitterness balances the whisky’s sweet sherry notes, creating a captivating blend of flavours. 

Dark Chocolate

Dried fruits like figs or apricots echo the whisky’s rich fruitcake nuances, adding depth to the taste experience. A cheese board of rich cheddar and robust blue cheeses complement the whisky’s robustness and sweetness, adding an extra layer of intrigue.

On the other hand, the Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask offers a tropical vibe. Perfect with desserts such as coconut cream pie or crème brûlée—which mirrors the whisky’s sweet, tropical notes. The pie’s coconut layers match the whisky’s exotic hints, and the crème brûlée’s caramelised sugar emulates the whisky’s demerara sugar flavours.

Creme Brulee

For savoury preferences, consider spiced Caribbean dishes or seafood. The dishes’ lively spices align with the whisky’s exotic spiciness, creating a satisfying flavour burst. Grilled prawns are a delightful pairing, their sweetness providing a balance to the whisky’s tropical flavours.


The Balvenie 12 DoubleWood costs a bit more despite its younger age. You can get it for around £47/$58. On the other hand, Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask you can buy it for about £65/$82.

Balvenie 12’s higher price tag is there for a reason. It’s a popular drink, known for its quality and consistency. Many see it as a standard of good Speyside Scotch. 

The 14 Caribbean Cask, it’s older and has an extra rum cask finish. It’s not your usual Scotch whisky. But if you like experimenting with flavours, this whisky could be of great value for your money.

Balvenie 12 vs 14: Final Thoughts

It’s been quite a trip, hasn’t it? We’ve dug into each whisky’s individual traits and pondered which might hold the upper hand. You’re probably itching to know which one wins my personal vote, aren’t you?

To share my personal take, I’ll use a scoring system, breaking down my appraisal into a table with distinct categories. This way, it’ll be clear as day which whisky stole my heart. 

I won’t leave you in the dark either. Once we tally the scores, I’ll go ahead and spill the beans on why I leaned in that direction. Hear me out in the following section.

BestBalvenie 12 DoublewoodBalvenie 14
Balvenie 12 vs 14 comparison table

Balvenie 12 vs 14: Author’s Pick

A close encounter with two Balvenies: the 12 and 14, stirred my spirit and got me excited. They both came highly recommended, that’s true. Yet, I found myself leaning towards the Balvenie 12.

Consider the 12’s colour, first off. It’s a shade that invites and whispers quality. Not as deep or rich as the 14, but the colour of the 12 has its own charm. It’s lighter, more amber-like. It appears friendly, and familiar, like a warm welcome. You look at it and you see a whisky that doesn’t intimidate but rather, suggests a comforting, known experience.

The first whiff you get when you uncork the bottle, the initial scent that hits you as you pour yourself a dram. The nose of the Balvenie 12 is exceptional, truly a sensory delight. It’s like a delicate dance of diverse smells, an elegant symphony that gently tickles the nostrils. The 14? It has its unique bouquet, no doubt. But it just didn’t strike the same chord, not like the 12.

First sip and you’ll know. It somehow glides over the tongue, coating the palate. The Balvenie 12 boasts a mouthfeel that I found very enjoyable. It was smooth and gentle. The liquid rolled effortlessly, pleasingly around my mouth. Now, the 14 didn’t disappoint in this respect. It felt good too, but there was something about the 12. It was like coming home, like slipping into a well-loved pair of shoes. Comforting. Familiar.

Taste is of course the star of the show. In this respect, both whiskies held their ground. Both offered complex flavours, and interesting layers to explore. Yet again, I found the Balvenie 12 nudging ahead. The flavors seemed to me more integrated, more harmonious. 

The finish, the afterglow of a good whisky, was where both whiskies truly matched stride. They both offered a pleasant, lingering finish that left me in quiet contemplation. 

Ultimately, the choice was subjective. It was a one-point difference but took almost all of my time deciding which is which. They both have their merits and their unique selling points. But at the end of the day, the Balvenie 12 spoke to me in a way the 14 barely managed.

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