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As is the story of so many Scotch whisky distilleries, ownership of the Balblair distillery has changed hands numerous times over the course of its existence. Founded in 1790, Inver House bought Balblair in 1996, shortly after having purchased the Knockdhu (1988), Speyburn (1991), and Pulteney distilleries (1995). Inver House sold a number of Balblair expressions produced by prior owners (including expressions as old as 33 and 38 years), but eventually replaced this lineup with a series of vintage releases. The first of these produced by the new ownership was the 1997 vintage, originally bottled in 2007. However, the 1997 release reviewed below was bottled in 2009, making it approximately 12 years old.
Like many of the whiskies released by Inver House, Balblair manages to be simultaneously bright and rich. The nose is stuffed with the scent of ripe oranges and is wonderfully floral, especially of roses. There are also hints of bread pudding, pineapple, vanilla, honeycomb, and bubblegum.
Similarly, the palate is rich and round, with notes of candied orange, vanilla custard, cereal grains, smoke, lavender, and a touch of spice. The finish is lightly vegetal, sobering up the otherwise sumptuous drink. It is a beautiful dram, and one as luxurious as its packaging implies.