At first I was a tad confused by this whisky. An Islay cask used for a Highland whisky? What are they doing over there? It turns out this isn’t so rare at all with all kinds of distilleries doing this, most famous is Balvenie and Balblair has done it before apparently.
Anyway, most Highland whiskies can handle a bit of peat so that should be okay. It’s nice that this one is released for my friends at Master of Malt and I was happy to taste it in the non-Master of Malt twitter tasting last Thursday.
Slightly peaty indeed with some hints of both peat and smoke. Vanilla and oak. Slightly drier than the 1995 release, but that can be because of the higher age or the peat smoke. The peat does close it off a bit and it needs some time to breathe. Some spices, with the familiar Balblair fruitiness. Apple, cinnamon, hay and unripe pears. Also some lime zest.
The palate is slightly more peppery than I expected, with the light hints of peat and smoke returning. Apple and pear again with crushed black pepper. It’s slightly salty too, to my surprise. Never expected that. Dry smoke with yellow fruit and some spices too.
The spiciness continues here, with red cinnamon (the spicy kind) and pepper. Some oak followed by apple, lemon and lime with some dry wood smoke. It lasts quite a while!
While this is a slightly different beast than the previous Balblair it is very nice to taste how their spirit holds up to a bit of peat and smoke infused wood. A very interesting twist that turns out remarkably delicious.
The peat seems to be not overpowering but restraining at first and you have to try a bit more to actually find the flavours. Still, when you give it a few minutes this baby starts revealing all its deliciousness. So, highly recommended as well!
Balblair 1990, Islay cask 1466, 50.4%, OB for Master of Malt. Available only at Master of Malt for £ 124.95.
Sample provided by Balblair and Alemic Communications