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

April 11, 2019


A barrow of Blair Athol

I’ve always liked Blair Athol, with its stories about old tour guides, lovely scenery, soft whisky, meadows, business mergers and acquisitions, busses, and of course black fungus. Let’s see what we have and try a few…

Blair Athol 12 yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, +/-2017)

Blair Athol 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Earlier batches have been pretty good in my opinion (like, 2005, WF 85) but the older ‘black labels’ from the 1970s were even better. In case you’re wondering, the mascot on the label is some kind of beaver, as far as I can tell. Colour: gold. Nose: liquid cake, as they would say at Pitlochry’s tearooms, where you would usually meet many very friendly ex-distillery workers and other engaging senior citizens. Brioche, Golden Grahams, almond croissants, soft malt, cigarette tobacco, shortbread… It’s really very cake-y. Mouth: in keeping of the nose, just much drier, almost bitter at times. A lot of black tea, which is very fitting isn’t it, bitter chocolate, crunching coffee beans, those sorts of things. If you like genuine ‘black’ chocolate, you’ll love this. Some dry walnut wine too, ‘ideas’ of fino sherry, etcetera. Good body at just 43%. Finish: a little short and bitter. Big maltiness in the aftertaste, as well as some wood smokiness. Comments: I believe it got drier than earlier batches over the years, not too sure. I like it anyway.
SGP:442 - 84 points.

Blair Athol 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn’s Choice, 413 bottles)

Blair Athol 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn’s Choice, 413 bottles) Three stars and a half
We should get closer to the distillate here, at this young age! Colour: light gold. Nose: this one’s even more barley-y, except that it’s also got much more vanillin. Notes of sponge cake, then stewed fruits. Peaches, plums, quinces… Quite some muesli too, which is normal. Exactly what anyone would expect from such a wee bottle. Mouth: good! Some beer, naturally (ale, bitter) and some more barley and cakes, with a layer of black tobacco and a few cloves. Some oranges as well, and something more rustic than in the F&F. Chicory? Roasted barley? Finish: rather long and pretty spicier. Cloves, a touch of aniseed. Comments: very fine, and already rather impressive at just 7. But is 7 the age of reason for malt whisky? I think not quite.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Blair Athol 14 yo 2004/2018 (59.8%, James Eadie, refill sherry, cask #99, 529 bottles)

Blair Athol 14 yo 2004/2018 (59.8%, James Eadie, refill sherry, cask #99, 529 bottles) Three stars and a half
This one could be a little brutal… Colour: straw. Nose: a lot of ethanol this time, really. It’s raw, with some varnish too, apple spirit… I suppose water is more than needed here… With water: beer again. Weissen, malt, porridge, flour… Mouth (neat): very strong, half barley-y, half-fruity. We’re talking sweets, jelly beans, and, since this is the right period, little Easter eggs. With water: exactly what you would expect from some young Highlander ex-very-refill. A lot of malt, bread, cereals, raw popcorn, even rye, and some grass in the background. Without compromises (hold on, that line rings a bell…) Finish: rather long, cereally and fruity (apples, pears, plums…) Comments: this baby did not quite feel ‘14’, but its youthful rawness works well. What’s more, you’ll find plenty of funny hipflasks at Pitlochry’s tourist shops.
SGP:441 - 83 points.

Blair Athol 30 yo 1988/2018 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry, cask #6847, 519 bottles)

Blair Athol 30 yo 1988/2018 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry, cask #6847, 519 bottles) Five stars
This one came out in December last year. Signatory have bottled quite a few stunners in their 30th Anniversary series, some completely crazy if you ask me. Let’s check this little Blair Athol (isn’t Blair Athol Edradour/Signatory’s nearest neighbour?) Colour: deep gold. Nose: of course. Mangos, honeysuckle, lime blossom, Timut pepper, pink pineapples, lightly smoked tea, whiffs of natural rubber, some umami, one small cigar and we’re done. Forgot to mention rose petals and perhaps a wee glass of Fleurie. A dazzling nose. With water: exceptionally full of the most precious tobaccos. There. Mouth (neat): superb. Quite bizarrely, it would make you think of old Bushmills at some point (those mangos that we already found on the nose), then of fresh Sauternes, with some lush apricot jam, maracuja, liquorice, dried apricots, tangerines… What a whirlwind! I’d even dare mention sémillon, but you would say I’m pushing the envelope, and perhaps you would be right. Perhaps the most extravagant Blair Athol I could try. With water: rosehip tea, Corsican citron, pink pepper, grapefruit, passion fruits… Finish: long, fresh, floral and fruity. Very solid structure. Comments: well, in fact, this one reminds me of some of those wonderful old official ‘black labels’. They share the same DNA. Just totally impeccable.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

(Merci Fabien)

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







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