While my distillery visits to Balblair were underwhelming, I still like Balblair. A lot. It is one of the first whiskies I reviewed on this blog. Their vintage approach made them stand out. They were just more interesting for it. An age statement approach, like most other distilleries have, is just a little more stagnant.
Having said that, you probably already know Balblair switched to age statements earlier in the year. In a sense, it’s made them much more generic. At least in my view. The new labels don’t help either. What is Balblair’s identity now? I’m not sure.
But let’s not lament for too long. The best way to cheer up is to be positively surprised by the new Balblair 12 Years Old. Fingers crossed.
Balblair 12 Years Old (46%, OB, 2019)
Nose: Very light and it takes a little while to open up, but then it goes right into apple cider territory, accompanied by hints of vanilla, coconut and oak shavings, but also lemon and sour beer. Taste: Pleasant oiliness with a hint of chili pepper and a certain oaky bitterness, as well as a bit of green apple and soft notes of barley husks. A touch of ginger too, as well as bitter lemon peel. Finish: More of the above. Medium in length.
Not too dissimilar from the 2005 vintage, but with just a little more character and depth. So not a major improvement, but luckily no step back either.