Blair Athol started its career in 1798 as the Aldour Distillery, named after the Allt Dour Burn, which means ‘old burn of the otter’. This burn still provides the distillery with production water. Since 1998 it is part of Diageo and produces around 2.8 million liters of spirit per annum. The bulk goes to the blenders – Bell’s being the largest customer – but independent bottler bottle their fair share as well. Cadenheads bottled this 28 Year Old from 1988 at cask strength in 2017.
The first thing that comes to mind when putting my nose in the glass is walnuts. Lots of green herbs too, Maggimix and parsley. Only then – and it takes quite a bit of effort – does some fruit emerge. Think pineapple and apricots with a hint of jasmine. The wood is prominent as well. Think chestnut, roasted nuts and leather. Hint of marzipan, freshly ground coffee and white chocolate. Interesting, but less sweet than I am used to from Blair Athol.
On the palate it is a lot sweeter and surprisingly intense. No, it’s liquid candy. Bubblegum, popcorn with caramel, vanilla and candy floss come first, before it turns quite piquant on white and chili peppers and liquorice. What a cacophony of tastes. But for some bizarre reason it works. The fruit is driven to the background. Apricots, pineapple and roasted nuts return for a spell.
The pineapple and some cake come to the fore in the long and drying finish, but it remains piquant throughout.
Cadenheads is known for putting two casks together for this type of release. I wonder if they selected a juicy and bitter/dry Blair Athol cask for this one. Not bad, but I’ve had better.