If you go down to Covent Garden today, you’re in for a… errm… trip to Covent Garden. However if you’re there between 1pm and 8pm you can also pop in to number 34 Tavistock Street and visit The Balvenie Whisky Den: a new interactive space being put together by the Balvenie team.
The idea is that the Den is an evolving space – when we arrived 3 days after the opening date – there was the beginnings of a bar, and several decorative pieces around the room made from barrel staves. Olivier also talked of the downstairs area, which by now should feature a load of whisky-production related ephemera also.
As time goes by, more and more of the decor will be finished by the team and, as far as I understood it, members of the public who wish to help and thereby influence the final shape of the place. As with the care and attention that goes into the making of the whisky, one of the core ideas of the space is “craftsmanship”. Both of excellence & durability, and of the idea that things are crafted from raw materials by people, rather than always churned from anonymous industrial factories.
In addition to all the barrel-related furniture however, the Whisky Den is also very much home to a selection of whiskies from the highly excellent Balvenie Distillery. Based up in Scotland’s delightfully named whisky hub site Dufftown, and neighbouring the vast and impressive Glenfiddich distillery, Balvenie is a wildly popular award-winning spirit and much of its popularity rightly comes from its spicy, honeyed characteristics with a hint of distant peat.
We tried a dram of the Balvenie Doublewood upon walking in, because the chap behind the bar said he couldn’t stand to see people without a whisky in their hands. A couple of other expressions are available to buy, up to the excellent Balvenie 21 year old Port Wood Finish (which made an appearance on my Top 10 whiskies list).
People who join up for the Balvenie “club”, known as Warehouse 24, also have the option of trying a “deconstructed tasting” – offering the rare chance to taste 3 single-cask Balvenie whiskies that are blended
in together to form the master distiller David Stewart’s signature whisky – the Balvenie Signature. It’s a fascinating insight into the distiller’s craft, and the chaps at the ‘Den were excellent about ensuring there was a good blend of straight explanation for tourists as well as technical in-depth stuff for people who want to know.
So because of its evolving nature the place probably looks nothing like these photos any more, however what would be fun is to pop in there every couple of days to see what’s changing.
And to make sure that the Doublewood maintains its exquisite quality, of course.