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Balvenie The Second Red Rose, 21 Year Old Shiraz Cask Finished, adds to Balvenie Stories collection

What you need to know:

  • Balvenie is set to stage a second release to the new addition to the Balvenie Stories collection, with the Second Red Rose.
  • It is 21 years old, bottled at 48.1% abv, and was finished in Australian Shiraz casks to create an elegant dram brimming with notes of fresh, ripe fruits and delicate spice.
  • It was initially announced back in 2019 for global travel retail, but was shelved due to the pandemic, but is now marked to stage a comeback.
  • The expression follows the story of Margaret Douglas, a Tudor Princess, who after the death of her husband, paid King James II a single red rose annually as her rent for living in the castle, which had now belonged to the King.
  • This follows a 2008 release of a now legendary Balvenie Red Rose, which was matured in Port Pipe.
  • This time Australia Shiraz casks were used to give the whisky a deep red hue and a distinctive vibrant taste.
  • Tasting notes below! 


(Image Source: Balvenie)

The Balvenie Stories collection tells the stories collected over the course of Balvenie’s 130 year history, inspired by Dufftown, where Balvenie calls home, the characters who’ve helped build the distillery, as well as local events and crafts. 

Previous launches within the collection includes A Week of Peat, A Day of Dark Barley, The Sweet Toast of American Oak and The Edge of Burnhead Wood, and the upcoming Tale of the Dog.



You can listen to the stories of each of these expressions on Spotify for free. For Spotify, you can hit this link here. (It is free!)



The Second Red Rose was originally announced in 2019 and was marked for global travel retail,  but unfortunately due to Covid which halted most international travel, it seems like it never ended up seeing the light of day. 

The expression was inspired by a legendary Balvenie bottling, The Balvenie Red Rose, which was released in 2008 and has done spectacularly well in secondary markets such as auction sites. The 2008 expression was finished in a Port Pipe and was 16 years old. 


The original Red Rose. (Image Source: The Whisky Exchange)

The Red Rose comes from the story of how decades ago, the flower was paid as rent for the Balvenie Castle from Margaret Douglas to King James II annually. King James II had come to find the castle in his possession after the death of Margaret’s husband and so a single rose was paid in rent for her to continue living in the castle.


Margaret Tudor depicted in the TV series, The Tudors, played by Gabrielle Anwar. (Image Source: The Tudors)

The flower was said to have a vibrant magenta hue and was considered not just extremely beautiful, but extremely valuable as well. As such, David Stewart, Balvenie’s Malt Master, had aimed to create a deeply vibrant whisky, which he was inspired to do so using Port Pipes (for the first take) and Australian Shiraz casks (for the second attempt), to give the whisky a deep red hue and a distinctive vibrant taste.


Official Tasting Notes
Intense ripe fruits combined with robust earthy tones, reveal the mouth-watering fragrance from fresh mango and subtle oak
An initial burst of blackberry and ripe peach sweetness, conceal flavours of vibrant oak and cracked black pepper leaving a gentle woody spice
Lingering oakiness


It is bottled at 48.1% abv and aged 21 years old. It is finished in Australian Shiraz casks for “an elegant dram brimming with notes of fresh, ripe fruits and delicate spice”.


Initially due to be released in 2019, it was shelved due to the pandemic. (Image Source: Balvenie)


Our take

This is probably the most sought after release from the Balvenie Stories collection by far, given the telling story behind it, the wild popularity behind the initial Red Rose release back in 2008, and also I believe this is the first time Balvenie is doing a Shiraz cask finish.

Let’s hope this time, this second red rose does make it to see the light of day. Flowers after all do need sunlight. 

This is definitely going to be one to keep a look out for.