In 2015, the famous chef Anthony Bourdain went on a journey throughout the United States to uncover the most talented craftspeople in different areas. He uncovers a side of these skills never seen before highlighting their stories and all the process that takes to achieve the incredibly gorgeous and unique pieces. This journey would not have been the same without the partnership developed with the Balvenie Whisky, which is also done with talented craftspeople that put their heart and soul in the development of this incredible drink.
The show is called Raw Craft and as Anthony said in the press release: “For me, there is deep satisfaction in seeing people, with a particular skill set and a real passion, produce a beautiful thing which is why I’m excited to be a part of these programs in partnership with The Balvenie”. There is always a skill uncovered in the different crafts pieces que feel, smell or taste, which hide a story of their creation and of the dedication given by the people in order to create it. It is wise that we take this in consideration and understand in depth how is done and why.
The Balvenie Whisky
Stablished in 1892 in Scotland, The Balvenie Whisky is still considered nowadays to be the most handcrafted whisky of single malts. They currently are the only distillery in Scotland that grows their own barley, using still their traditional floor malting process. This means that by using the traditional methods the distillery is able to manually rake and turn the barley in order to keep the grains loose and aerated. This has an impressive impact on the overall finished product with influence on its notes and flavours. An automated method, as it is normally used, keeps the barley thicker with less aeration, which creates a more common and average whisky flavour. The use of a coppersmith and a team of coopers in the Balvenie distillery offers as well a higher expertise in the process, maintaining the old traditions and crafts knowledge in the whisky development.
Five Rare Crafts
As the company describes, they still use their five rare crafts, the same way they have always used. This means that their artisans share a knowledge and an expertise that brings this whisky into their true potential combining the skills and ambitions like no other.
These five rare crafts are:
- The home grown barley – the barley is grew in their own farm, using just a harvester as modern technology. This means that their process is still the same maintaining the quality of the barley as they always have
- The malting floor – only very few distilleries use their own malting floor in Scotland. The process done by the craftsmen offer a unique complexity in their whisky
- The copper stills – the copper still size and shape influence tremendously the taste of the whisky, that is why they put great importance in it, with very few changes since the distillery was created
- The cooperage – The casks – barrels, buts, hogsheads and puncheons, create the different flavours of each whisky making it more toasted or more caramelized. Their selection is crucial in each range
- The malt master – the expertise and skills of the longest malt master in Scotland, David Steward, are decisive on the choice of which whiskies will be bottled and how they will age
All of these five crafts hold an important and vital position individually and together, in the taste development of the whisky.
This dedication has allowed The Balvenie to win many awards throughout the years for their distinctive whiskies, which range from their core range, triple cask range, limited editions and vintage casks. All of these families offer unique flavours and notes, which differ depending on the cask, barrel, age, process, etc. Their awards differ as well depending on the type of whisky, where for example, the 15-year single barrel whisky received gold, silver and double gold medals.
It is definitely a true experience and journey when tasting any of The Balvenie whiskies, as you are able to feel and smell the years of experience and expertise given by the true masters of the whisky world.