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

October 31, 2023


Three new fresh Scottish fruit juices.
That's right, Balblair.

Balblair Distillery (Visit Scotland)

There's a new official 21 years old, and we're going to take this opportunity to add two rather appealing recent independents from Scotland. Better this way…


Balblair 21 yo (46%, OB, 2023)

Balblair 21 yo (46%, OB, 2023) Four stars
This pretty expensive new baby (300-350€) was first matured in bourbon barrels for fifteen years – don't we know that Balblair loves bourbon - and then for some further six years in Spanish oak seasoned with oloroso, so sherry or rather sherry-type wine (as they don't say 'sherry'). Colour: deep gold. Nose: very much orange-and-walnuts-driven, which we tend to always like. You would also find notes of manzanilla tea (exactly, chamomile) and cigarette tobacco (we keep quoting Camel while we've last smoked a Camel around the year 1990), green earl grey tea (like it better than the regular back versions), and this je-ne-sais-quoi that reminds us of quasi-neighbours Dalmore. Must be the oranges… Awesome nose, well-balanced 'sherriness'.  Mouth: rather more rustic on the palate, leafy, with loads of green walnuts, a lot of nutmeg and cinnamon, green pepper, chewing tobacco, then rather ginger, chlorophyll, green peppercorns and lemon skin, including a bit of the bitterish 'white stuff'. Finish: long, more on fruit peeling and clove, plus always rather a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Candied ginger, banana skin and marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: the spicy oak feels a bit, but naturally, this is more excellent middle-aged Balblair. I liked the nose rather better.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Balblair 15 yo 2008/2023 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice, Summer Edition, 1st fill barrel)

Balblair 15 yo 2008/2023 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice, Summer Edition, 1st fill barrel) Four stars
From two first fill barrels. Lovely label between Turner and Rothko. Colour: straw. Nose: good fun! Cranberries, jasmine, redcurrant jelly, bubblegum, toffee apples, candyfloss, blood oranges, chenin blanc and a good glass of weissbeer (plus another one of citrusy IPA). There are also whiffs of strawberry yoghurt, like when you sometimes pass by a working malting plant, let's say Port Ellen. Hints of tomato leaves too. Rather remarkable, even if this isn't summer anymore (my bad, we've been slow again). Mouth: some similarities with the 21 (gritty, leafy fruit peel, nutmeg) but also more fresh fruit, including tropical ones. Prickly pears, physalis, blood oranges, tart starfruits… That's all a little unusual in fact, but it's fresh and lively. A little vanilla, some heather honey. Improves over time, getting fresher and easier, with the fresh fruits winning it in the end. Finish: rather long, with green apples making it through now. Those beers in the nose are back too. Comments: do I keep the rest for next summer, or can I enjoy it all before Christmas, Mr. Sponge?
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Highland Single Malt 12 yo 2011/2023 (55.1%, Thompson Bros., first fill barrel)

Highland Single Malt 12 yo 2011/2023 (55.1%, Thompson Bros., first fill barrel) Four stars
May I perish instantly if the distillery on the very pretty neo-retro label isn't Balblair. Phew, I'm still here. Colour: white wine. Nose: a tarter, grassier, greener version of the Sponge's. It's shock-full of lemons, lime and granny smith and has also got notes of limestone, chalk and slate. Who's mentioned bone-dry chenin blanc? With water: more pure apple and lemon juices. Mouth (neat): a blade. More green apples, more lemons, and once again these small fruits they often use to decorate deserts, physalis, starfruit, white currants, brambles… With water: once again, more pure apple and lemon juices, plus large packs of sour candies. Finish: it's becoming more exotic, with passion fruits, more acidulated fruit drops and one wee olive. Good fun there.  Comments: so fresh, so very Balblair.
SGP:661 - 87 points.

Post Scriptum: a blend of the OB, the Sponge and the Thompson would score between 88 and 89 in my book.

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







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