Whisky Connosr

Balblair 1997

Average score from 10 reviews and 23 ratings 84

Balblair 1997

Product details

  • Brand: Balblair
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 43.0%
  • Vintage: 1997
  • Bottled: 2010

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Balblair 1997

Today’s entry is a mini of Balblair 1997 (bottled 2013), in the old bottling style with the embossed vine on the glass.

The colour is a light gold. On the nose the dominant note is lemon meringue pie with a hint of peat (?), some herbs (parsley, sage) and overripe pear. Heather honey. Floral, a bit more so with water. Not demanding or challenging but very lovely.

On the palate it becomes more herbal with some light milk chocolate, lemon pith, hint of clove and toasted oak. Very honeyed. Sweet malt. Water makes it a little bit more chocolatey. Quite a bit of complexity, and mouth-wateringly delicious.

The finish is lemon-pepper, some ginger and buttery pastry. This is a classic Highland malt, herbal, fruity and with real complexity. Excellent.

Love it. I’m down to the last dregs of my bottle and yearning for more. Also have the 2000 which is also a killer dram.

I have a mini of the 2005. I should probably give it a go...


Found this in my local supermarket recently which was quite a surprise given they generally only stock the usual 'entry-level' malts of Glenfiddich, Laphroaig 10 etc.

Declared as natural colour and unchillfiltered.

Spicy vanilla nose. Some figs and a hint of bananas. Sweet and then sharp - lemon and pineapples. Bizarrely making this almost Chinese Sweet and Sour. Perhaps I just have a vivid imagination!

Vanilla dominates the palate initially but then I get a brief wave of aniseed and fennel. After a bit of time I get some spicy oranges but it's never as sweet as the nose would suggest.

The finish is a bit flat, hoped for more although some spiciness does linger for a few minutes.

It's OK overall but nothing special. I'd rate it a bit higher if the price was lower.


The Grapes of Wrath come to mind when thinking about this youngest of the Balblair 'vintages'. Like the vintage movie classic, Balblair 1997 could become on of the classics. Well, at least based on my review...

The grapes are surely there and there's a little bit of wrath in the bitter aftertaste but I still like the full and fruity palate of this one. So I guess the grapes of pleasure would be more appropriate statement on Balblair 1997.

And because of its price, Balblair 1997 might as well be a whisky of the Great Depression (the era where Grapes of Wrath takes place).

Nose: Strong barley with the touch of fresh fruits. Mix of apricot, pineapple and lemon.

Taste: Very full and sweet, strong notes of green fruits like grapefruits, pears and apples. Gently oaky and spicy.

Finish: Long but not the best part. Bitter and lemony with hints of peat and spices.

Balance: Sweet and full with a touch of bitter notes at the end messing the palate a bit. Still, a good whisky, the bitterness is still okay as you can tell from the score.


Very bright golden appearance. The nose is very vibrant with bright oranges and lemons, followed by sweet fig and coconut. The nose is a BIT muted. The palate comes strong with sweet toffee, white pepper and medium body. The finish isn't short, but no new flavors arrive. A very pretty little 10 year.


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.


Nose: Sweet banana nut bread, honey cream , milk chocolate

Taste: Light smoke in Crisp mountain Air , spice to medium sweetness, banana cream pie , raisins drizzled with milk chocolate , smooth.

Finish: A Coffee shop sprinkled doughnut with a touch of spice. Pear syrup over cream crackers.

Overall: A very nice apertif , fresh , light , creamy , Tropical. A Nice surprise.


Sweet... first nose off of the glass. smooth, banana does come off too, heavily after the 2nd and 3rd nose. It's all pretty simple at this point. The palate develops nicely and moves to make a stronger statement. The slight sweetness stays, but quickly adds pepper/spice and mild, almost wafting wasabi experience through your head.... a euphoric light headed-ness. The finish is at first strong and bold, then tapers off to let you down easy. Still banana on the finish, more pepper/spicey goodness and a hint of soft hay? The experience is very good, combining a balance that is diverse, unexpected, but really does work well. This is one of those whiskies that you step back and say, "nice, I didn't expect those combinations, but I respect it enourmously."


I suggest you also read my review of the Balblair 1989 for comparison. But allow me to elaborate a bit on vintages. The Balblairs are vintage expressions, because the do not have an age statement, but only stage the year of distilling. A 12 Year Old will contain whisky that is at least 12 years old, but might also contain whisky that is 13 or even 14 years old. Not so with this vintage expression. This one only contains whisky from 1997.

On to the review then.

The nose is again fruity, very much so, but has a lot more depth than it's older brother (the 1989). I smell passion fruit, green apples and even banana. Actually, it reminds me of banana peel - does that make sense? There is truly a lot going on here.

It's very creamy and reminds me of marzipan, toasted bread and dried tropical fruits, most prominently pineapple. Amazing and nicely peppery.

The finish is spicy with a touch of cinnamon. And neverending. Lovely.

This is a lot better than the 8 year older version. At a price tag of something along 35 pounds, my choice of Balblair was an easy one. This one's got balls!

(if anyone's got the 1979, I'm in the market for a sample - cheers!)

I've been a whisky drinker for a while and enjoy it for the taste, feeling and kick it gives. It's only recently I've tried to associate notes and flavours with in the mix and still struggle picking things out unless it's obvious.

With regards to this whisky the banana peel made sense, I also thought it had a vanilla/creamy smell and taste and although the I enjoyed it I was left with a bitter aftertaste - something I've not had from other brands and this spoiled it for me. How would you describe this bitter taste and did you get it too?



Lee, I'm glad the banana peel made sense then. I'm a novice and write from the heart (or try to) and sometimes, when re-reading my stuff, it kinda sounds strange. However, I didn't get that bitter aftertaste (or I would have mentioned it), so cannot describe it for you. Still, this is good dram, no?


I've got a couple of twitter buddies from the Holyland who, knowing that I'm into the sweeter drams, suggested this one to me. They've not steered me wrong yet so I decided to listen to their suggestion and pick up a bottle.

This one is not available in the US because it's not a 750ml bottle, rather a 70cl. Why the US will not accept bottles at the 70cl volume is just dumb and beyond me. Luckily, there are some good sops in the UK that do ship to the states so I got my bottle anyway. Ha, take that America!

On the nose - pineapple, right away. Some sweet melon, think casaba and a little bit of spice, like a gum drop spice.

Palate - Waves of fresh fruit. So refreshing. Really, unlike any sweeter dram I've ever had. These are all more tropical fruits (no apples, pears, etc... that you usually get from American Oak). Oakiness comes through now

Finish - Medium-long, spicy, some oak and the tiniest hint of smoke (could be in my head).

This stuff is so refreshing, you could forego brushing your teeth at night (or in the morning, if that's your thing) and just get a dram of this stuff!

indeed very odd they dont want 700 Cl bottles. which shop did u order from? happy u liked this josh

Sounds fascinating - I've added it to my now almost never-ending wish list...


Nose: clean barley with soft vanilla. Really fresh and minty, with quite a lot of fruity notes (apple, orange, lemon, pineapple). Honey. Also spicy notes (cinnamon) from the oak. I quite like the nose. Mouth: sweet attack, again really fruity (pineapple, apricot, grapefruit). Vanilla. Subtle oak. Very light hints of peat. Evolving on spices and liquorice. Finish: a bit too simple and maybe a tad too bitter (ginger).

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