I’ve tasted a few, but this is actually the first Balblair written up for the site. And a good thing it ended up being this one too. The younger expressions I’ve tried so far have not done much for me, so why not get the party started with one that does turn my crank?
Perhaps it’s just a little bit of dust on the bottle (or cask?) that this Highland distillery needs in order for me to really cotton to it. And by that I mean maturity of contents, not simply having sat on a shelf for some interminable period. Or maybe it’s just that this is a particularly fine vintage. Either way, this 1989 Balblair is really good dram. A perfect example of what happens when a nice clean spirit run meets good – and none too rambunctious – wood. The end result is an elegant ‘any time of day’ sort of whisky. Light, easy drinking and very clean. As this was tasted blind, I wondered initially whether or not this might be a very naked older Auchentoshan.
This Balblair was distilled in ’89 and bottled in ’12, effectively making it a 22 or 23 year old, depending on actual dates. Either way…mature and plucked from the barrel at a great time. Not much more to say.
Nose: Immediately love the profile here. A light latex paint kind of top note and the smells of older casks and slightly dusty wood (very nice!). Bread dough. Creamy custard. Vanilla and ginger. Sugar cookies. Some jam, and maybe a hint of orange and cherry. Faint smoke (just from cask charring, perhaps?). A touch of florals. Lots of clean cask, spicy notes. Very nice overall.
Palate: Fruit skins. Toasted marshmallow. Vanilla and cinnamon (from a clean bourbon barrel?). Somewhat drying and almost tannic as it fully develops. Nice mix of fruity notes: orange peel, apple and something a little more bland…faint pear, maybe?
Thoughts: Tasted blind. I guessed there was some age on this one. Around 20, I thought (and it seems to be either a 22 or 23 year old, as mentioned). I also thought this was likely at cask strength. Wrong there, but it is at a respectable 46%. I should note…there is more going on on the nose than the palate, unfortunately, but it is a good dram nevertheless.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt