Having once worked my way through a full-sized bottle of it and having applied it gingerly, though consistently and assiduously, as if it were a salve to my pain, approaching the Balvenie 10 now as a reviewer is like reconnecting with a high school flame at one's twenty-year class reunion (imagine you're not married). Despite a beginning brimming with familiarity and schmaltz, it soon gives way to embarrassing fumbling towards which all present would be most merciful to turn a blind eye. The middle loses its balance when confronted with the artificial mixture of scents and flavors, some introduced to mask others, much like Mint Vanilla Flavored Listerine™, even though the original was just fine as it was, despite its idiosyncratic and now slightly antiquated character. Soon after the finish, there is the bitter aftermath, the bleak hours spent next to the former inamorata or inamorato, awash amid the detritus and decaying baggage of the middle-aged shipwreck that one's life has become. Fortunately, as with such a tryst, the Balvenie 10 ultimately has an ally in human psychology: after the maladroit valedictory, the thought asseverates itself, ineluctably and unmistakably, until it prevails as the ultimate arbitrament, "Ah well, I do still dig that label, though. Man, I remember when I used to think that was simply the way a label on a bottle of scotch should be..."
The Balvenie 10 is your high school yearbook--it reignites a solid set of memories, but it seems a world away from where you are now. And it's got nothing on the 80's channel on satellite radio.
*--this bottle is the first of a nice batch of miniatures my father was good enough to allow me to take from his liquor cabinet and put toward the cause of the Malt Impostor. Cheers, Dad, and thanks!