Google Blair Athol 50 Years Apart

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

August 19, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Blair Athol
50 Years Apart
Blair Athol is one of those whiskies I tend to mentally categorise as humble, dependable and ‘highland’ in a modern sense of the word. The kind of whisky you can easily turn to in a pub or round the kitchen table after a meal when something relatively easy is called for.


It’s also a distillate which has really changed quite remarkably over the decades. Lets have what may prove a slightly unfair pairing of two examples at similar ages and identical strengths but distilled several decades apart.  


Blair Athol 2007/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice)

Blair Athol 2007/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice) I’m pleased G&M finally upgraded this great series to a proper bottling strength and dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st century; only took about 40 years. Colour: Light gold. Nose: Ginger biscuits, milky tea, some bread, toasted pumpkin seeds and some buttery cereals and grains. Honest and rather simplistic malt whisky in other words at first nosing. A rather basic green fruitiness emerges along with restrained touches of vanilla and honey. There’s also a sense of hay and horse stables about it (perhaps a suitable bottling for your hipflask at the Blair Horse Trials...?) Mouth: good richness for a whisky that’s only 9 years old. A sense of natural, barley sugar sweetness which is held nicely in check and never dominates. Some mead, a little pumpernickel bread, English bitter beer, a little orange peel, more biscuity notes but digestive this time and a slight grassiness. There’s also more than a little spiciness about it nibbling around the edges of the palate and a slightly drying cereal aspect like plain oatcakes and a touch of aspirin. Finish: medium length and still quite drying with spice, chamomile and a few splinters of wood. Comments: Decent malt whisky. I liked the fact that it was pleasantly drying and not too sweet. The sort of whisky that shows the better aspects of youth, although it’s not exactly a thrill ride. SGP: 442 - 78 points.



Blair Athol 8 yo (80 proof, OB, UK market, bottled early 1960s) This livery appears to have been used for quite a long time from the 1950s into the late 1960s so I suspect there are quite a number of variations. Needless to say most are spectacular and there are high expectations here... Colour: Gold. Nose: Doing this kind of head to head is often unfair but this just totally crushes the poor CC. It’s hard to emphasises just how utterly, utterly different this style of whisky is. It’s all on soot, coal hearths, bergamot, old chartreuse, coins, tool boxes and a bewilderingly intense, herbal, earthy, old style peat. Seriously the peat in this is reminiscent of some extremely old OB Highland Parks with this kind of heathery, drying smokiness overlying dusty phenols and and oily, black heart of peat. Goes on with camphor, furniture polish and all manner of waxes, resins and oils. A poetic and totally captivating nose. Mouth: Immediate and intense old style peat. Herbal, menthol, gently mineral, a deft oily sweetness, tar liqueur, hessian and again the most complex kind of waxiness. A huge, fat and dense distillate but at the same time it’s astonishingly easy and shows beautiful composition and poise on the palate. The kind of whisky you can just hold in your mouth for Richard Pattersonian lengths of time. Little flecks of fruit emerge as well: tangerine, kiwi, stewed apple and guava to name but a few. More little flavours keep darting out: earthiness, stables (again with the horses Blair Athol!), steel wool, smoked teas, gorse and caraway. Finish: Apocalypse Now Redux is shorter. A cavalcade of peat, oils, waxes, resins, teas and earth. A lick of mint in there somewhere as well. Majestic! Comments: I never tried such a peaty example of this old bottling before. We really should have called the anti-maltoporn brigade but it somehow slipped my mind. I think these have become quite hard to find in recent times; it’s not hard to understand why when you taste something like this. SGP: 467 - 93 points. (Big thanks to brother Phil)  







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