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

March 5, 2018


Balblair today and yesterday

Utmost respect and love for Balblair, a distillery (or a ‘brand’?) that never denied itself, never did – to my knowledge – any unlikely finishings (a.k.a. whisky’s lipstick and botox) and never tried to dip their fingers in the honey jar (a.k.a. do stoopid NAS). Kudos, Balblair!

Balblair 2004/2014 (46%, OB, travel retail, 1st release)

Balblair 2004/2014 (46%, OB, travel retail, 1st release) Two stars and a half
I know I’m late once again. Colour: straw/pale gold. Nose: noses sweet, all on orange cake and custard. Gets then even more citrusy (more oranges) while some tarte tatin’s coming out of the oven. In truth this is relatively simple, on the other hand it’s very well balanced. Easy pleasures. Mouth: rounded, sweet, barley-y, vanilla-ed, and very marginally coconutty. In all simplicity. Finish: medium, just as simple, perhaps a tad maltier. Muesli in the aftertaste. Comments: Certainly good, but a little too mundane, I think. Good enough for airport travellers, but that may be all. A little disappointing – perhaps too young?
SGP:541 - 78 points.

So, since that one was too young (IMO)…

Balblair 1999/2017 (46%, OB, 3rd release)

Balblair 1999/2017 (46%, OB, 3rd release) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, now we’re talking. There is a modern bourbony side (vanilla, charring, caramel) and indeed a little sawdust, but the yellow flowers (dandelions and such) and the lighter honeys (acacia) do work. Nice whiffs of fresh parsley and coriander on top of that. Mouth: oh this is funny, some ex-peater casks must have been in use, sure as there's carts to horses. Lapsang souchong, camphor, then smoked herbs (or seaweed?) and lemons. Very good. Finish: rather long, still smoky, with good citrus and green apples. Some smokiness left in the aftertaste. Comments: a very good one, with proper turns and twists. Balvenie were having a similar thing…
SGP:552 - 85 points.

Balblair 1990/2017 (46%, OB)

Balblair 1990/2017 (46%, OB) Four stars and a half
Which release is this? Not too sure, but it was launched around September last year. Colour: deep amber. Nose: ah, yes, this is superb Balblair, akin to what they had been distilling in the 1960s. Which means that it is much more tropical, that it’s got mangos, honeydew, aromatic herbs, figs, and high-end raisins that suggest that there was some good sherry involved. Great nose. Mouth: notes of rum, triple-sec, citron liqueur, then rather hay and tobacco, then mangos and papayas. High class, for sure. Finish: medium, excellent. Crystallised oranges, figs, raisins, honeydew, sweeter spices. Cinnamon cake. Hints of peachy Cognac in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re making excellent progress, aren’t we? More proof that with whisky, time does mater. Please don’t believe people who are getting paid to tell you otherwise.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

How shall we go on?...

Balblair 10 yo (100°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1970)

Balblair 10 yo (100°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1970) Five stars
Colour: amber. Nose: some perfect nutty and tobacco-y sherry at play here, some walnuts, something faintly metallic, cigars, dried porcinis… It’s the earthy side of it that’s really fantastic. With water: amazing, hazelnut liqueur, mild cigars, leather care cleaner (Connolly’s, naturally), mushrooms… Mouth (neat): puréed chestnuts and old Turkish date liqueur (arraks), figs aplenty, earthy nuts (chestnuts), cigars, Grisons meat… This is pretty amazing, in fact. With water: gets sweeter but even more complex at the same time. A good friend once ‘arranged’ some great old agricole rum from Martinique using dried figs, and he came up with something similar. Nobody would do that anymore. Finish: rather long and more ‘bouillony’. Maggi, bone marrow, parsley, chicken soup, chestnut soup… Comments: later G&M 10 100°proof had always been brilliant (late 1970s, WF 90), this is even greater. But insider’s stuff, I’m afraid.
SGP:561 - 92 points.

I think there’s room for one more…

Balblair 1986/2017 (49.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, for Whisky Show Old & Rare 2017, refill sherry hogshead, cask #12649)

Balblair 1986/2017 (49.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, for Whisky Show Old & Rare 2017, refill sherry hogshead, cask #12649) Four stars and a half
I agree, it was about time we tried this baby. We’re more than one year late, mind you! Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s the old 10, only simpler, less ‘wide’, less earthy, more straightforward, more immediate, more on dried fruits and, ach, err, fruitcakes. Pear cake, or tarte tatin with pears instead of apples. Charlie, are you listening? With water: damson / quetsche / zwetschke tarte, totally covered with cinnamon. Some pretty extreme Alsatian stuff, you know. Mouth (neat): rich, yet slightly mentholated, almost-zesty, very orange-y, and, yeah, rich. Cinnamon rolls and cask-strength panettone (ideas ideas…) With water: takes water extremely well. More cigary notes. Finish: fine herbs, mint, chives, dill… For a long time. Then butterscotch in the aftertaste. It was a good cask. Comments: I tasted this baby one good year after it came out, and will probably publish these notes even after the following Whisky Show Old & Rare Show. I hope you’ve already noticed that this lousy online tasting diary (nah, not quite a blog, since we’ll always refrain from rehashing old whisky content to death) was not really up to it. I am sorry.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Ite tasting session est, but stay tuned.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Balblair we've tasted so far


Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Caol Ila 2006/2017 (60.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, first fill sherry butts, casks #306183, 306184, 306186, 306187) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Brora 1976/1989 (63.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #61.1, 75cl) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Kilchoman ‘Loch Gorm’ (46%, OB, 2017 release)  - WF 89

Favourite malternative:
Domaine de Baraillon 1985/2012 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) - WF 92






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