The Macphail Collection: Balblair: 10 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 43% ABV)
Visual: Pale greened grain.
Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.
Nose: Husked grain. Smooth. Lime. Vanilla. Water changes little.
Body: Light alcohol touch. Slightly empty. Murky water. Water adds vanilla, white chocolate and vanilla toffee. Lime touch. Honey. More water adds raisins and spiced red wine.
Finish: Oak. Malt chocolate. Alcohol sheen. Murky water. Water adds white chocolate. Honey. Gin air and juniper berries. More water adds spiced red wine.
Conclusion: This seems extremely non distinctive for a whisky, especially for a Balblair. I’ve only had a couple of run ins with the distillery, but every one has stood out, and also stood on their own two feet. This – less so.
Without water it actually feels pretty empty. Alcohol touched but not heavily so, with just a kind of murky taste. If you take your time to let it open up then you do manage to get some hints of what I presume is the bourbon side of the ageing – white chocolate comes out and such like. However it is still indistinct and pretty bad as a whisky, let alone a Balblair whisky.
So let’s jump straight on to after we have added that often game changer – water! That makes it better, right? Yes. Yes it does. That makes it worth drinking, right? No. No it really doesn’t.
It brings out what feels like some sherry barrel influence – as opposed to the slight burbon influence that showed up neat. There is slight spiced red wine and raisins – nothing too unusual and far less distinct than in nearly every other sherry touched whisky I have tried. More water brings out a tad more of this, but also makes everything else even less distinct.
It isn’t actually painful (unlike, say Isawa whiskey) but it is bad. Probably duller than the Tamdhus I have encountered. I generally like Balblair, but this does nothing for me.
A let down and a bad whisky.
Background: Saw this miniature at Corks Of Cotham when I was up there recently – lovely wee place. You don’t see many miniatures of independent bottlings, nor of Balblair, so fished it out and grabbed it. Put some The Kominas – Wild Nights In Guantanamo Bay on while drinking. That album is 8 years old now – Wish a lot of the themes in it about anti Islam sentiment weren’t still as relevant today as they were back then.