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Sample 5/6 from @Wierdo marks my first taste of any Balblair. It seems that this distillery gets pretty good reviews and is a malt that many 'malt-heads' rate as one of their favourites. Located on the Dornoch Firth up in the north east of Scotland, it sits close to the famed village of Brora and not too far from Wick, of Pulteney fame. I've been keen to try this and have almost pulled the trigger on a bottle a few times. So here goes . . .
Nose - Fresh, creamy sherry, soft, fruity (berries), barley sugars and some spice (baker's ginger). Complex, balanced and very appealing. A whiff of salt perhaps?
Taste - Fruity, creamy and soft, velvety even, on the palette. Spice comes out more as it develops (gentle liquorice root and cinnamon).
Finish - Some nice oak notes and very mild tannins make it quite dry but pleasantly so. It balances the sweetness nicely.
Water opens up the nose revealing more fruit but I find the taste becomes a little thin. Better neat.
I can see why some would rate this a bit higher, and get more out of it, than me. This is what I’d call a comforting whisky – one to ponder – and at that it does the job very well. It’s just that I generally get more pleasure from whiskys that really shout - that is to say have a certain robustness or loudness of character - this whispers, seductively. I’m reminded of my experience with Clynelish 14 in that it was clearly an excellent and well-made whisky but perhaps just a little too soft and delicate for me to get really excited about. That could be spun another way but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind ;)