Balblair are a highland distillery that are based not too far from Glenmorangie. Balblair do things differently to many distilleries, I am pretty sure that all their whiskies are bottled at 46%, not chill filtered and not coloured. Also, they label their whiskies differently too. They state the vintage year, which is the year the spirit was put into barrels and the year the whisky was bottled. Deducting one from the other will give you the age. I think this is a really useful thing if you want to understand more about how a whisky evolves over time. So if I was to get a bottle of Glenmorangie and compare it to a bottle from last year, I would not know if they were both produced at the same time or not. However, with the vintage I could compare this 2005 vintage which as aged at 10-11 years old with a 2003 vintage bottled in 2004 which is also aged at 10-11 years. So I can compare a 10-11 year old Balblair made in 2003 with one made in 2005. I believe that when the master blender thinks that the flavour profile has changed significantly they label the bottle as a new release. Call me sad but I think this is cool. I must add a word of caution though when you are purchasing online, it is not always clear from the description which release you are buying and I have found that images do not relate to the description – so always worth e-mailing suppliers to confirm the year it bottled and the release edition.
Whisky: Balblair 2005 vintage, bottled in 2016, 1st release, Single Malt, 46%
Nose: Banana, oranges, mango, salt, brine, vanilla
Taste: Grapefruit, grass, citrus, malt, brine, spice
Finish: Coastal and oak
Summary: This one appear very light in the glass due to it’s natural colour but it delivers a punch. I found this to be strong at 46% given the light fruity flavours. The spirit leads on this one, that is for sure. There is a hint of vanilla and oak from the cask but I get the feeling that the tropical elements are from the spirit as it is accompanied by a good amount of maltiness. The brine notes add a little something extra to this one too. I had to add a few drops of water to tone down the alcohol. Although not complex I found it to be enjoyable. It has the underlying characteristics that I enjoy the most in whisky – that fruity coastal vibe. I will be seeking out to try more from the Balblair range.
Scoring scale: My scores reflect a balance of the overall experience, availability and cost for a whisky,
1 – not to my preference
2 – tastes fine but does not excite me
3 – more to my liking and would revisit occasionally
4 – very much to my liking and would consider as a regular feature on my whisky shelf
5 – permanent feature on my whisky shelf
Image source: www.thewhiskyexchange.com