Google Balblair Old and New

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

April 29, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild

Balblair Old and New

Is it refreshing that my titles are as featherweight as yours Serge...? Lets compare an old and a newish Balblair of similar ages today.


Balblair 23 yo 1993/2017 (53.2%, OB for Royal Mile Whiskies, Bourbon Barrel, 204 bottles) Balblair 23 yo 1993/2017 (53.2%, OB for Royal Mile Whiskies, Bourbon Barrel, 204 bottles) A recent official bottling for Royal Mile Whiskies, I like that Inver House still do bespoke bottlings for different whisky companies, it keeps things interesting I feel. Colour: Bright straw. Nose: We’re in a Patisserie and they’re using an intoxicating amount of custard it seems. Notes of icing sugar and mille-feuille slices with a grinding of green pepper in the background. Develops with some pollen, butterscotch and lemon zest. Overall this is very fresh and classical modern Balblair. Betrays some coastal origins with little notes of sea greens, wool and wet pebbles. In fact it really starts to grow more coastal with time and air.  


With Water: Ah good! We’ve struck fruit! Although it’s quite a luxurious and relaxed fruitiness, not excessive but rather gentle and subtle; all on lemon wax, greengages and orange bitters. A lemon drizzle cake perhaps (business is clearly booming at this Patisserie Serge...). Mouth: A very satisfying and fruity delivery, lots of lemon peel, green fruits, apples, ripe bananas and more vanilla custard. Some hints of stewed raisins and good quality pastry, this really is a dram to pour while you’re watching the Great British Bake Off (if that’s your thing). Sweet in a good and natural kind of way that isn’t entirely or obviously from the wood at the expense of the distillate. Gets quite spicy now as well, more peppery notes and a good coastal saltiness to round it out. With water: slightly more savoury now, develops these lovely, slightly yeasty notes of fresh sourdough, more lemony notes, bay leaf, camphor and green tea. Finish: Long and effervescent, leaves a lemon balm like fizz on the tongue with an increasingly coastal fade. Comments: Top notch Balblair. Complex and well balanced whisky that walks a very pleasing tightrope between fruits, seashore notes and sweetness. Also takes water in its stride. SGP: 634 - 89 points.  


Balblair 21 yo 1964/1985 (57.80%, Intertrade)

Balblair 21 yo 1964/1985 (57.80%, Intertrade) High expectations here. Not to mention the fact it was bottled in ‘my vintage’, so, 1985 wasn’t all bad... Colour: Pale amber. Nose: Sherry ahoy! This big blast of hessian, dunnage and almonds which heralds a rather classical old sherry cask at work. Some bacon grilling on a barbecue then quite plush notes of green fruit, marzipan and a very gentle, fragrant smokiness. More hessian, wax, camphor, fresh pears, old furniture, some really elegant rancio notes - this seems to walk a tightrope between an antique shop and an orchard. There are even some little tropical touches like dried mango and pineapple. You don’t feel the alcohol on the nose very much even at full strength. Goes on with lychee and a petrol / boiler shed style fatness - something alluding to a youthful, punchy Gewurztraminer perhaps.



With time it’s becoming increasingly mineral and coastal. What a nose! With water: Serge, do you happen to have the number for that Maltoporn Brigade of yours by any chance? Just a luminous mix of preserved lemons, tea tree oil, olive oil, black olives, dark chocolate and fresh guava. Mouth: POW! A cavalcade of waxes, oils, all kinds of tropical and citrus fruits, more rancio, a little medicine, lanolin and darjeeling tea. Quite an immense delivery that is pure old school! Goes on with treacle, frying pancetta, molasses, kiwi and a tiny hint of natural tar. With water: this could almost be one of these pre-war G&M malts bottled at a young age and fuller strength. This sort of cocoanut profile with tropical fruit, light tarriness, rancio and spice is really starting to fuse together beautifully. (Serge, I really need that number please!) Finish: A big, slow, undulating parade of waxes, oils and fruits. Comments: Another brilliant old Intertrade bottling, not particularly surprising, but utter pleasure from start to finish. And what is great is that it never stopped feeling like a Balblair, despite these delightful throwbacks to what felt really like a pre-war character of malt whisky. SGP: 755 - 93 points.  Thanks Hans!  








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