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Balblair 1990 2nd Release

Average score from 3 reviews and 7 ratings 86

Balblair 1990 2nd Release

Product details

  • Brand: Balblair
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 46.0%
  • Vintage: 1990

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Balblair 1990 2nd Release

Different sources state that there has been a release of Balblair 1990 in 1998, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The last three were all called ‘Second Release’. How can this be? While somebody writes down the explanation, I will try the bottling from 2014.

The sherry has clearly put its stamp on this nose. Wonderfully sweet notes of sultanas, banana, oranges, honey, vanilla, dried apricots and mango that goes hand in hand with the spices of which I remember mostly cinnamon and nutmeg. Some brown sugar, rose water and toasted oak. I’ll gladly forgive the hint of molding wood and moist cellar.

It is wonderfully sweet and creamy on the palate. Immediately I get some dried fruits in combination with Granny Smith apples and grapefruit, soaked in lime and plum juice. Good body! Hint of leather and mocha with a salty edge. Surprising and very good.

The finish is medium long to long with the emphasis on pepper, ginger and cinnamon. At the death, a smidgen of sulpher dares to rear its ugly head.

The nose was a lot sweeter than the palate, but is is still a gem. Not very delicate, but powerful and complex. Around 120 EUR nowadays.

@Balblair I have never taste a Balblair. The problem for me is that the good ones are expensive. This one is at the limit of my financial capacity but I pay that kind of money only when I know it will be something that will blow my mind. I am still not convinced about this one.

Hi Mark. Interesting reviews on this one. I just picked up a bottle at the distillery when we were in Scotland a couple months ago. We did get a tour and tried all of the tasting options they had. Of the lot, I found the 1990 the most interesting. The 1984 was very nice, but this one just stood out. 21 years in BT bourbon casks and the last 3 years in the Sherry casks just gave it enough grape to really grab me. Slainte.


Color: The 1990 matured for 21 years in ex-bourbon casks and had a 2 year finishing on Oloroso sherry butts. It has a rich amber color and forms long elegant tears on the side of the glass.

Nose: A rich nose of raisins, oranges and milk chocolate. Pim’s biscuits (Belgian chocolate biscuits with orange marmelade) and butterscotch. There’s also a lot of sweet spices and ‘peperkoek’ (breakfast cake made from rye, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar) with honey. Water unleashes red fruits. Strawberries and redcurrants ready to be picked on a hot summer’s day.

Taste: It is less sweet than the nose. I’m discovering mostly spices. Black pepper, nutmeg and cloves. Then oranges and chocolate. But this time it’s more like candied orange peel dipped in chocolate. Water emphasizes the bitterness of orange peel.

Finish: A long soft finish with oranges and an oily texture.

Conclusion: This 1990 Vintage is an atypical Balblair. The fresh and floral signature are replaced by complex sherry flavours. A short marriage with Oloroso butts gives it a unique character with notes of orange and chocolate.

My original tasting notes (in Dutch) can be found on my tumblr blog A Tasty Dram: tastydram.tumblr.com/post/71236870001/…


Have you seen the film The Angel’s Share? Then you have seen images of this Highland distillery. It is an odd one out as it does not use age statements on the label, but uses vintages. The current range consists of the 1965, 1975, 1978, 1989, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2002. This Balblair 1990 is a duty free release, so not to be confused with the single Islay cask that was released in 2012. I got me this sample at Jan’s birthday party.

The nose is immediately honeysweet on white fruit, apples and pears, and vanilla custard. Actimel with strawberries! Marshmallows. A bit of buttlegum. Fresh and lively (read: young), albeit somewhat simple.

Slightly oily on the palate. A bit grainy with again that European orchard fruit. Pineapple cubes, icing sugar. Again something that makes me think of dairy product. The bubblegum checks in as well, which makes him seem quite young. Hardly any spices. Sweet and docile.

The finish is pretty long and fruity.

This is a very simple, albeit flawless and perfectly quaffable, sping whisky. Just under 60 EUR in the airport. Thanks, VC!

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