I love Balblair. Ever since I visited the distillery last year, and a Twitter tasting done before that I just love the distillery. Not even sure why since I didn’t try that many of their whiskies, since not many shops in The Netherlands stock the stuff. Also, the movie The Angel’s Share helped.
I also like what they’re doing with their vintage releases. They’re restricting themselves more than regularly age-stated bottles, but I like it for that very reason. When at the distillery we didn’t have much time after the tour and since I was driving I didn’t drink either, so we just poured samples and got on our way to Glenmorangie. A shame, since I would have enjoyed the guided tasting. If only just to see what they’re about during such an event.
The vintages I’ve tried are all over the map, with the focus being on the younger ones. Unfortunately I never got to try the 1969 and have only tried the second batch from 1975. Apparently, the 1983 is great too, and I’d love to try that. Maybe at some point in the future (read: I just thought of another bottle for on my wish list).
This 2002 bottles was shared between Matt Veira and me, we also shared a 1991 I bought and some samples. I like sharing bottles. It’s keeping the collection of open bottles moving, and you get to try more for your money, without it just being one glass. You still have some time to get to know a whisky before it’s gone, but won’t have to shell out for an entire bottle.
While there is a lot of aroma coming off the glass, the scents are very light. There’s some licorice root, maybe some pickled ginger too. I get a light vanilla syrup with some other wood spices too. Maybe even thyme.
The palate is lightly spicy too, a bit dusty mouth feel with that. Vanilla syrup again. It doesn’t have the creaminess you generally associate with custard. There’s some bite, some spirit. Tasty, but not too special.
The finish is where this one lets me down a bit. It gets a little cardboard-y and isn’t very long.
This is a bit of a strange one. While I respect that this is the entry level Balblair and I can’t expect too much of it, I still think there are some mistakes in this whisky. But I still like it. I do think, however, that for the money they’re asking for it you can better spend another few bucks and buy the next whisky in their line, the second batch of 1997 is great, for example.
Having said that, this is a pretty decent whisky. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it, but it just doesn’t deliver all that I hoped it would. Still, I’m happily finishing my 35cl sample over the next couple of weeks.
If you can still find this one, it’ll set you back from £ 41 / € 50
Balblair 2002, 1st release, 46%, non-chill filtered and such.