Balblair Distillery Bottlings Tasting Notes

Posted: February 29, 2012 in Balblair

Balblair New Make Spirit 61.8%

Tasted: Apr 2014

A lovely soft nose of sweet cereal, biscuity malt. Lightly oiled and very peppery with a touch of perfumed rose and hyacinth.

The palate is lightly gristy and cereally with delicate floral notes. A short burst of intensely, fleshy apricot on the middle with a touch of pepper. Long, drying, peppery and malty finish.

A drop of Highland water makes the nose sweeter and softer. Less peppery but it has given it an almost rye-like herbal bite as well as emphasising the fleshy apricot, citrus and robust sweet barley. The palate is also sweeter with the apricot fruit being given a lovely granulated sugar coating. Good floral fade.

Balblair 2005 1st Release 46%

Bourbon/ Dist: 2005 Btl: 2015/ Tasted: Dec 2015

Beautiful, lightly honeyed nose with a Sauvignon Blanc-esque, fresh grassiness and hints of apricot, white fruit and barley. Just a suggestion of vanilla oak.

The palate opens with soft, subtle white fruit, barley and a touch of milky oak. Off-sweet apricot, pineapple and banana follow. Zippy citrus and the grassiness comes through on the middle. Lovely, fresh, mouth-watering finish with lime, grapefruit, gooseberry, white liquorice and finally a touch of acacia honey. Superb!

Balblair 2003 1st Release 46%

Bourbon/ Dist: 2003 Btl: 2013/ Tasted: Apr 2014

Quite a perfumed nose with chunky oak, fleshy apricot, banana and sub-tropical fruit. The oak becomes quite creamy as some fern and grassy notes appear along with some balancing citrus notes.

The palate is quite citrusy to begin with, followed by some lightly gristy barley and soft, creamy oak. Quite full and toasty with hints of grass and herbs. Very mouth-filling middle as the oak fills out. Long, lightly peppery spice finish which is a little drying.

Balblair 2002 1st Release 46%

Bourbon/ Dist: 2002 Btl: 2012/ Tasted: Aug 2012

A beautifully crafted nose, clean, fresh and herbal followed by slightly gristy barley, white flowers and background oak. Quite full with a lovely depth and crisp freshness.

The palate is quite full with a touch more toffee’d oak character. Wonderfully fresh on the middle as the minerality and citrus cut through leading some crunchy barley and apricot along with a slight herbal nuance and a touch of perfumed white flowers. Really quite complex and densely fruity but light, elegant and mineral at the same time. Lovely length with some cut grass and a touch of spice. Very impressive.

Balblair 2001 ‘1st Release’ 46%

Dist: 2001 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: Feb 2012

A crisp, clean and slightly grassy nose. Wonderfully endowed with green fruits. Slightly gristy with some perfumed white floral notes. Extremely pure and beautifully fresh with a soupcon of ever so slightly sweet barley. Lightly oiled with just a suggestion of spice. An absolutely divine nose!

A soft and gentle honeyed barley start. Like the nose the palate is superbly clean and fresh with a gentle oak note drifting in and building pleasantly as does the barley. A slightly mouth watering middle leads to a cut grass finish. Beautifully layered with the wood ever so slightly bittering the finish.

Balblair 1999 ‘2nd Release’ 46%

Bourbon/ Sherry

Dist: 1999 Btl: 2014 (15 year old)/ Tasted: Aug 2014

The nose displays a lovely intensity of green apple, barley and creamy American oak. The sherry adds hints of dried fruit and cinnamon but it’s the spirit that takes centre stage with a beautiful, fresh citrus and white fruit character.

The palate displays a little more of the sherry character – spicy dried fruit, prune, walnut, fig and macerated orange. Hints of barley and citrus come through on the middle however. Lightly honeyed with the citrus and lightly creamy oak become ever more noticeable. Long, fresh citrus and green apple finish with some lingering dry spices.

Balblair 1997 ‘2nd Release’ 46%

First fill American oak/ Dist: 1997 Btl: 2012 (15 year old)/ Tasted: June 2013

A delicate but striking nose full of a gorgeous array of lightly honeyed white fruit, unsweetened pineapple, barley, straw and a touch of pepper. Pleasantly citrus with tangerine, lime and a touch of mature oak. I love it’s stony/ granity demeanour and with time the oak becomes pleasantly creamy.

The palate is soft, full and layered with oodles of sub-tropical apricot and pineapple, barley and some beautifully crumbly spices. Quite a piquant/ mineral middle which keep the oak under control and makes sure it stays in the background adding structure and not overwhelming the spirit. Very long, with a stony, Sauvignon blanc-esque, herbal finish. Sublime stuff.

Balblair 1990 2nd Release 46%

Bourbon/ Sherry

Dist: 1990 Btl: 2014 (24 year old)/ Tasted: Apr 2014

A beautiful combination of sawdusty American oak and mature sherry. Full, fleshy and very herbal with hints of sultana fruit cake, cinnamon and a light orange/ Satsuma. A light Cognac-esque rancio emerges but the sweet barley fills out. With time the American oak powers through giving the aromas a lovely, buttery character.

The palate is moist and succulent, like the nose it is a lovely combination of sawdusty American oak and raisinated fruit sherry. Full and mature with again an oxidised fruit rancio. Lovely spicy middle, quite peppery as well with a real black peppercorn character. Quite an oily, lightly floral finish – rose and violets plus lingering dusty, spicy dried fruit and a lightly herbal after-taste.

Balblair 1989 ‘2nd Release’ 43%

Dist: 1989 Btl: 2011 (22 year old)/ Tasted: Feb 2012

A touch oilier than the 2001 with a greater degree of oak evident, adding hints of toasted caramel. Still exquisitely clean with the perfumed note found in the 2001 attempting to come through. Late notes of white pepper, a touch of heather and some peppery spice emerge.

A gentle opening with the toasted caramel oak up first. Fuller and oilier than the 2001 with a beautiful, shimmering clean depth of mature barley and a touch of honey. Lovely depth and length with a pleasant mouth filling quality. Long, with a slightly peppered spice finish and a touch of mentholated green fruit (gooseberry?) in the finish.

Balblair 1975 2nd Release 46%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1975 Btl: 2012 (37 year old)/ Tasted: Aug 2012

A sensuous and mature nose with plenty of sawdusty oak and succulent, macerated fruit. Wonderfully honeyed with a slight perfumed edge to the honey. Dense, deep and exotic with the fruit bordering on the tropical.. Seriously luscious with a thin seam of smoke and light peat. This is nose is incredibly complex and layered, with an ethereal quality but at the same time a chunky depth. A late perfumed orange and touch of herbal spice add to the enjoyment.

Sensuous and deep on the palate. Malt and mature fruit intertwined with mature oak vanillins glide over the tongue. Luscious and juicy, brimming with mature honey, citrus and a slight herbal, grassy note. There are huge globs of molten herbal honey on the middle, which fades majestically into a soft, yet fresh, herbal and spicy finish. The oak grips slightly at the end but there’s still enough honey to counter that. Evocative, complex and amazingly fresh for its age. Stunning stuff!

Balblair 1965 (43 year old) 52.3%

Single American Oak Sherry Cask

Dist: Mar 1965 Btl: 2008/ Tasted Sept 2012

This is a truly beautiful nose! Gently mature and succulent, oozing mineral flecked honey and juicy barley. The aromas slowly unfurl and you can detect amazingly fresh vanilla and dusty spices. The honey begins to develop a gorgeously mature sheen and there is even some grassy notes evident. Give it some more time and really shifts into top gear. The soft apricot and citrus fruit displays a light tropical edge which is coated in some delightful perfumed orange oil. Finally the oak wakes up and adds some lovely vanilla creaminess and a very subtle hint of dried sherry fruit. This may well be mature but it has a stunning freshness.

The palate opens with some cleansing, tart citrus and light grassy notes. The mature honey begins to delightfully build along with some sumptuous, mature oak vanillins. Again the oak is distinctly more American in character than sherried. The alcohol gives it a light mouth-watering edginess and along with a distinct minerality stops the oak and honey overwhelming. Finally the spice arrives along with some lightly oiled apricot and dried fruit. Stunningly deep and majestic with the tart citrus and lightly bittering oak playing out a finale. Absolutely gorgeous and with a price tag close to £1250 you should hope so!


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