Founded back in 1790 by James McKeddy this highland distillery is one of the oldest working distilleries and with a possible history tracing back to an earlier date of 1749 it certainly has the right to boast about its age..
The distillery today actually sits in a different location to the original site, in 1872 the distillery was re built around a half mile from the original site.
In 1911 the distillery closed and stays closed for a few decades.. Put up for sale in 1941 it isn’t sold until 1948 when Robert Cumming buys it for £48,000 and re starts production the next year..
Robert Cummings then sells the distillery to Hiram Walker in 1970 and with the merger between Hiram Walker and Allied Vinters in 1988 the distillery is under the control of Allied Distillers..
Inverhouse Distillers buys Balblair in 1996 and still owns the distillery to this date..
Balblair up until recently released the expressions under the Vintage statement but have recently re vamped the range and have decided to revert to adding an age statement to the label..
Balblair 12 year old
The first whisky in this review is for the new 12 year old which is described by Balblair as “ Elegant and Approachable “ and has been matured in American oak ex bourbon and “double fired” American oak casks..
Age.. 12 years
Nose.. Starting off with a nice fruity aroma that blends into gentle spices and a rather interesting lemon torte note.. Fresh apple peel and soft honey notes mingle well with cinnamon and ginger bread aromas.
Palate.. The fruity side is evident with a nice kick of pepper and ginger thrown in for good measure.. Vanilla, apple pie and poached pears lead into lemon peels, honey and a soft grassy note..
Balblair 15 year old
Cask.. American oak bourbon – finished in First Fill Sherry butts.
Nose.. Vanilla leads the way but it’s not too long until those Sherry notes start to shine.. Soft hints of dates, plums and chocolate soon start to develop into a real rich and enticing array of aromas.. Tobacco leaf and a soft liquorice lead into candied orange notes..
Palate.. A nice spicy start that leads so well into those dried fruit notes, chocolate orange, plum pudding, tobacco and rich vanilla flavours.. An earthy note lingers in the background, something like a Manuka honey flavour and the taste you get on your lips when walking through a dunnage warehouse..
Balblair 17 year old
Cask.. Ex bourbon casks before finishing in First Fill Sherry butts.
Nose.. A more fruity start but more tropical than the dried fruits I expected.. A hint of pineapple, red apples before soft aromas of dates, plums and dark chocolate start to muscle their way in..
Palate.. A little more spicy with some pepper, fresh ginger root and a touch of cinnamon but more like the apple pie with cinnamon.. Manuka honey once again brings in that earthy note along with a soft coffee flavour, dark chocolate and sugared almonds..
Balblair 18 year old
Cask.. Ex American oak bourbon casks followed by First Fill Sherry butts.
Nose.. A big sweet nose that is filled with a rich sweetness that just invites you in… Dates, raisins and dark toffee notes engulf the senses while chocolate, coffee grinds, tobacco leaf and a hint of cherries lead you into a sense of vulnerability..
Palate.. Dried fruits, fresh fruits and butterscotch sweets immediately greet you before a gentle spicy note starts to wrap itself around everything.. A little citrus bitterness shows up but it only compliments all the other flavours..
Thoughts.. As always Balblair whisky has delivered a vast array of aromas and flavours in this flight of whiskies..
I have to lean a little more towards the 17 and 18 year old but that’s just my palate. The intense journey these two take you on is sublime and it is so easy to get lost in these two drams but it goes without saying that the 12 and 15 year olds certainly do deliver plenty of flavour and aromas too..
The 12 is especially suited to those warmer summer evenings as it’s light and very easy to drink.. The 15 comes across as a great after dinner dram and would sit very nicely in any whisky drinkers cupboard..
With thanks to Balblair for this official tasting kit..