Tag Archive: Balblair


the-macphail-collection-balblair-10-year

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.

Balblair 1975

Balblair 1975 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 32 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light grain.

Viscosity: Very slow to form streaks, slow moving and thin.

Nose: Heather, potpourri and oak. Lime sorbet. Vanilla fudge. Light walnut cake. Water adds dry liquorice. Rum raisins.

Body: Vanilla toffee and lime. Some alcohol presence. Walnuts. Light chocolate. Cherries in sherry. Water makes liquore like and hides alcohol. Rum and raisin ice cream.

Finish: Walnut. Tangy lime. Dry. Coffee cake. Jelly. Raisins. Light spice. Water adds toffee liquore and cream. Rum and raisins.

Conclusion: There is a thing about the more elderly whisky in that it always seems to take a while to find the full charm of them. The first few sips tend to be smooth but don’t hint at the full range of flavour.

So it is true here, initially there is toffee and light walnut cake with a Yorkshire field aroma and sweet lime notes. Now that is not unimpressive but there is so much more there, and you have to give it time to coax it out of its shell.

It is a slow progression, and one that is aided by just a few drops of water. You get rum and raisins which is probably the defining element, subtle at first but it grows to mouth filling richness and is backed by delicate spice. It is soothing, sweet , warming and fulfilling.

The weakest element is probably the aroma, it never really catches the range of what is beneath it. Instead you find it oscillating between light floral notes and a liquorice touch. Despite that one flaw it is an incredible whisky, with great progression from light sweetness early on into complex dark fruit and spice that really catches the attention.

The flavour matches the texture well, smooth, well smooth after an early alcohol presence. It gives an ice cream like element to the rum and raisin, creamy and with water it’s a classy and smooth delivery system for the flavours.

Very much worth having if you can.

Background: You don’t often see whisky this old in miniatures. But since I did I grabbed it. I’ve tried a few Balblair’s now, found them light and fruity, but never got around to doing notes on one. Balblair eschew the usual route of doing x years labeled bottles, and instead do year based vintages. It’s an interesting approach and nigh guarantees that there will be a new expression on the shelves regularly so probably does well for keeping them in peoples attention. I do like the little stubby bottle style, especially scaled down to miniature size. You may have noticed this is my first note for a while, I actually finally cleared my backlog. First time since Japan despite coming close several times. Now I need a pint.

%d bloggers like this: