In regards to the Balvenie, I prefer the Doublewood to the regular 10 year edition.
I've tried the Doublewood, it's lovely but a bit too rich if that's the right term.
The best whisky I ever had was many years ago when I worked in a carpentry workshop, we were given a contract by the local council to provide flower tubs for the local villages, these tubs were to be constructed from old whisky barrels!
Subsequently we were given access to the yard of a cooperage owned by a local distillery and directed to a huge mound of empty barrels, as we began to load up from this pyramid of literally thousands of casks it soon became apparent that one of the guys was being really picky about the ones he would put on the trailer, it turned out that he was checking to see if there was any liquid left in them! Apparently when a barrel is emptied there is always a little bit of whisky left soaked into the wood and over time it will seep back out, especially if it is exposed to heat.
Well..... with our 3 trailers of hand picked barrels (about 30) ripened by a long hot summer we headed back to the workshop and proceeded to chisel out the 'bungs', consequently over a period of a couple of hours we managed to fill 6 lemonade bottles with a clear liquid (slight yellow tinge). At this point I was far from convinced that this stuff was drinkable, but the initiator of this little adventure was undettered and pouring some into his flask lid he proceeded to down his 'double of death', suffice to say he lived, complete with a huge grin which to this day is still the biggest I have ever seen.
The rest of that day is a bit of a blur, but I have to say it was the most delightful whisky I have ever experienced, the kiss of an angel and an inner glow that Chernobyl would be proud of. Seriously, you could taste all the whiskies, in all the pubs in Scotland and still never come close to those barrel dregs. the locals (Speyside) call it 'Billins'
, if you ever get the chance don't be afraid to try it!