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Balblair 2001

Sunday Afternoon Dram

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

22nd Sep 2013


Balblair 2001
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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We just got back from a visit with my parents in Oshawa, and while my daughter plays next door, I thought I would write up a malt that is perfect for a crisp, sunny fall day like today.

Balblair is a very old distillery, established in 1790 by a John Ross. The distillery stayed in the family for over a hundred years, and was closed in 1911 after being taken over by Alexander Cowan. It reopened after WWII when it was bought by Robert Cumming who then sold it to Hiram Walker in 1970. It has been owned by Inver House since 1996, who have marketed it in a fashion similar to Glenrothes, with a series of vintages elegantly packaged in apothecary-style bottles and boxed in cardboard. This particular malt was distilled in 2001, matured in ex-bourbon barrels and bottled in 2011. It is non-coloured and non-chill-filtered, and is their first 2001 release.

The spirit has a pale, sparkling golden colour. On the nose it is quite fruity and herbal, with crisp green apples, lemon curd, thyme and cocoa. Only slightly briny, very young. Pickling spice. Of course, vanilla. More floral with a drop of water. Clean and beautiful.

On the palate, clean and crisp, with lots of barley sugar and in perfect harmony with the nose. More lemon, with buttered pastry giving a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Very elegant, and more so with a drop of water, bringing more chocolately notes and an even creamier mouthfeel.

The finish is surprisingly long and deep for such a light malt, with some spices and chocolate. Lovely. A wonderful Sunday afternoon dram. Jim Murray scores this a 90.5, if you are interested in knowing. I have a bottle of 1989 (2nd release) but am saving that one for another day...I long to explore this distillery further.

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WhiskyBee commented

Another excellent review, and not just because your tasting notes are almost identical to mine!

I discovered Balblair about six months ago and have enjoyed every expression (three OBs, one IB) in my cabinet. This is a distillery that deserves more attention. Interestingly, I could write virtually identical tasting notes for all three of the OBs (the 19 yo Rattray CS is much more of a powerhouse, of course). I spent nearly twice as much for a 1991 expression than I did for either the 2000 or 2001. Very good stuff, but not twice-the-price good. A little more round and articulate than the younger siblings, but still very much Balblair.

That's my long-winded way of saying I'm very curious to read your thoughts on the '89 when you get around to tasting it. I'd like to add more Balblairs to my cabinet, but I'll avoid the expensive older ones if they're only marginally better than the more recent vintages.

10 years ago 0

talexander commented

Again, thank you for your kind words. I did get a chance to taste the 1989 2nd Edition - not my bottle, but at WhiskyFest NY last year. It was on the tasting floor at the booth, so I didn't have the time or opportunity to draft notes, but it was excellent, richer than the 2001, as I'm sure you can imagine. But I'm going to keep my bottle closed for the time being, and track its value over the next few years to see if it appreciates. If it doesn't, I'll open it. If it does, well......let's see what kind of an RRSP it can become......

10 years ago 0

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