The Second Red Rose is a premium whisky from the Balvenie distillery, based in Dufftown, Highland. Launched this September (2021), it is the fifth in this Scottish distiller’s series of luxury liquors. This bottling run follows the first inspiration of the Balvenie Red Rose in 2008.
According to a centuries-old tale, both special editions take their name from a rare red rose, paid as annual rent for Balvenie Castle. King James II of Scotland granted the imposing property to John Stewart, his half-brother and the Earl of Atholl. Stewart’s wife, Margaret, was also the widow of the 8th Earl of Douglas and later divorced his successor, the 9th Earl of Douglas.
After Stewart’s passing, James II allowed Margaret to remain in the castle during her widowhood. Reasonably, then, one could suppose that the beautiful and valuable flower took pride of place each year in one of the stately rooms of the royal palace.
Later, descendants transformed the medieval stronghold into an attractive Renaissance residence. However, there are no royals, aristocracy or another gentry at home here now. Apart from seasonal visits from roosting flocks of barn owls and bats, the castle is uninhabited.
This elegant dram has matured in Australian Shiraz casks. According to professional tasters, the whisky boasts an intense nose of ripe fruit with earthy tones and a fragrance of fresh mango. A combination of ripe peach and delicious blackberry follow, giving way to notes of ground black pepper and a subtle hint of wood and spice.
Aged for twenty-one years, The Second Red Rose comes at a strength of 48.1 per cent alcohol by volume, attractively packaged in 70-centilitre bottles.
Available through specialists
The Second Red Rose is on sale via specialist suppliers and on the international market at just under €350, supply permitting. Within the UK, the price tag is around £305.
In contrast, the 16-year-old 2008 Red Rose single malt scotch vintage was available only via the distillery. Notably, it finished maturing in a port pipe, thus contributing to the unique nose and similarly rosy hue.
Founded in 1892, the Balvenie company intends to continue adding to its releases of special edition malts. In particular, plans include a bottling run of their Tale of the Dog scotch (spelling intentional).