Balblair 18, 1990-2008, Hogshead 160, 58.7% – Riegger’s Selection

Normally I would start a post like this with something like “I quite like Balblair”, but I’m not sure if that is a relevant statement anymore.

I visited the distillery in 2013, and loved it. I also really like their output, but there’s not much available in The Netherlands. As in, official bottlings are few and far between, and it’s also not a very popular distillery with independent bottlers. Of course, before you start, it’s not UNavailable either, but it’s not something that just happens to catch your eye.

Anyway, I do generally like Balblair, although their special releases are quite expensive, and indies are more rare than I’d like them to be.

So, when this bottling popped up on my radar I did pay attention. I also did a bit of research and found that the few reviews it had (on Whiskybase) were really bad.

I decided to buy the bottling for two reasons. One was a slightly naive “it can’t be that bad, can it?” and the other was “I’m doing a tasting with all kinds of weird stuff, so this fits right in”.

Image from Whiskybase

Rather bland and slightly spirity. Very sharp, with hints of acetone. Time doesn’t seem to help to coax more out of it. There’s a hint of straw, maybe.

The palate is dry and sharp. Some straw again, and now there is some vanilla before the heat starts scorching your tongue. Slightly chalky.

The finish continues down the same road, with straw and vanilla. Maybe a touch of oak and a whiff of something wine gum like.

It’s hot, slightly sweet and doesn’t offer much, if anything. I can’t imagine picking a cask like this for a private bottling. There’s just nothing happening, and whereas that’s bad enough, in this case it burns your tongue while doing so.

So yes, it actually can be “that bad”. I’m not sure how to rate this, because giving it about 78 points, which I initially wrote down, puts in on par with the Old No. 7 by Jack Daniel’s, and I like that one better. 75 maybe? Or since it’s shit, maybe just a 60? Fuck it, let’s do that!

This must have been some faulty cask because, even if you don’t like Balblair, this just doesn’t fit anything the distillery normally does.

Avoid like the plague. Also: I have some left in my bottle. If you want it, let me know…



About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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