The Balvenie 12Yr The Sweet Toast of American Oak 750mL the round robust clear glass bottle with a white label and a black top
The Balvenie 12Yr The Sweet Toast of American Oak 750mL the backside of a robust clear glass bottle with a white label and black top

The Balvenie 12Yr The Sweet Toast of American Oak 750mL

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The Sweet Toast of American Oak

Aged 12 Years

Inspired to produce an even fruitier, sweeter Balvenie, Apprentice Malt Master Kelsey McKechnie had the bright idea to import Virgin Oak barrels from Kentucky. After deep toasting them at The Balvenie Cooperage they were filled with Balvenie aged in ex-bourbon barrels. The result is a delectably complex whisky with notes of candied fruit, coconut and delicate vanilla.

43% ABV



Lusciously malty with some sweet fudge, followed by citrusy and oak vanilla aromas with layers of spicy oak notes of ginger and cinnamon.


Candied orange and lemon peel, vanilla toffee and butterscotch, layers of blossom honey, some melted brown sugar and oak spices at the end.


Rich and malty with gentle waves of oak vanilla and subtle spices.

The story of The Sweet Toast of American Oak

This is the story of the spectacular things that can happen when an ancient technique meets fresh ideas. “Some would call us ‘aff our heeds’, but I suppose you’ve got to try something really different now and again,” explains Mashman Brian Webster.

The Balvenie is always thinking of new ideas, and I’m proud to be a part of that. Everyone mucks in.

12YO 1

Kelsey McKechnie and Gemma Paterson discuss the casks for The Sweet Toast of American Oak with Paul McLaughlin, of Kelvin Cooperage.

At only 25, Apprentice Malt Master Kelsey McKechnie had earned her place at The Balvenie table. Valued for her fearless approach to experimentation that she marries with a genuine respect for craft. “I love trying to understand the changes to The Balvenie whisky that happen during the making process,” she explains. “It helps me appreciate how much the craft has evolved over time and how specific flavours are created.”

At a get-together with the team, the seed of an idea took root in her mind for an experiment to produce an even fruitier, sweeter-tasting Balvenie. “We’re constantly looking to try different things, this was an experiment to see what could happen,” she says. “The idea was to pull out as much of the flavour of the wood as possible.”

The seed quickly developed into an ambitious plan. Supported by the expertise of Malt Master David C Stewart, Kelsey sourced Kentucky Virgin Oak barrels from Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky. A family-run business since 1963, Kelvin use the finest quality oak for their casks, toasting each one uniquely in the open fires. Paul McLaughlin, of Kelvin Cooperage, explains: “The only wood we burn on the fire is white oak. And the smell, you’re really activating all the vanillins within the American Oak, it’s kind of a nutty, marzipany smell, like freshly baked bread.”

12YO 4

The Balvenie Head Cooper, Ian McDonald, inspects casks at our Dufftown Cooperage.

Once the barrels safely arrive on Scottish soil, the pre-toasted casks are given an extra deep toast in The Balvenie Cooperage to drive the heat further into the wood and bring out as much flavour as possible. As Head Cooper, Ian McDonald asserts: “We’re adding extra life and flavour into the wood. After it’s spent 6 weeks in transit from Kentucky to Dufftown, our signature Balvenie burn refreshes the wood, bringing out all the flavour, colour, vanilla.”

And then the wait begins. With a smile Kelsey explains: “In whisky nothing happens overnight.” The toasted casks are filled with whisky aged primarily in ex-bourbon casks, before being laid down to mature for a few more months, a process known as ‘cask finishing’ and pioneered by Kelsey’s mentor, David C Stewart. “In the glass this is a complex whisky with incandescent notes of caramelised fruits, delicate vanilla and oak.

The classic Balvenie flavour is enhanced by even stronger, sweeter coconut and warm honey notes. It has taken on a really amazing fruity flavour and the colour is really rich.

12YO 3

The Kelvin Cooperage has been a family run business since 1963, and is located in Louisville, Kentucky.

Every step along the journey, which spans 3,792 miles from the dusty heat of Kentucky to the verdant hills of Speyside, is finely tuned to produce the finest and sweetest whisky. A magical combination of nature, chemistry and ingenuity, and a happy ending to our story.


A story told by:

  1. Kelsey McKechnie

    Apprentice Malt Master (3 years at The Balvenie and self-confessed whisky geek)

  2. Ian McDonald

    Head Cooper (48 years at The Balvenie and 30 years in the fire service)

  3. Paul McLaughlin

    Kelvin Cooperage (17 years at Kelvin Cooperage and parkour enthusiast)

The Stories range celebrates our Makers and the creativity, determination and passion that they put into The Balvenie.

David C Stewart (MBE) Malt Master

The Stories whiskies

It’s the heart and the passion that goes into each bottle. The dedication. The commitment. The obsession. This is what elevates the expert to the extraordinary. It takes skill to make something great. It requires heart to make something extraordinary.


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