Balblair 2005 1st Release (2017)
I so want to love Balblair, but because of two underwhelming distillery visits, I just can’t. There’s so much to like. The distillery is beautiful, their use of vintages instead of ages (or NAS) is laudable, and they don’t chill-filter or colour their whisky.
Their whisky is also pretty good. I still have very fond memories of the 1997 2nd Release. But to truly love a distillery and their product, I need a little more. Again, I can appreciate their whisky, but loving it is a deeper emotion.
Distilleries that I’m truly a fan of are the likes of Benromach, Pulteney, Springbank and Bowmore (there are others too). It’s no coincidence that I’ve had incredible experiences at each and every one of them. That is not the case with Balblair.
Twice I’ve done a distillery tour (just the regular one, mind you), and both times I left underwhelmed. In theory they have it all, but in reality the place lacks something.
For example, the last time I visited Balblair distillery (a few months ago), the tour guide told me they don’t care about flavour. Like, literally those words. Apparently, fermentation times don’t really matter all that much, and neither does yeast. I suspect the people actually working in production would disagree with that tour guide.
Anyway, sorry for the sort of off-topic prelude, as this post is supposed to be about the Balblair 2005 1st Release. So, you know, let’s get to it then.
Balblair 2005 1st Release (46%, OB, 2017)
Nose: Extremely light and malty, to the point that I’m convinced this must’ve matured in some of the most inactive casks known to mankind. Hints of fruit (banana and a touch of lemon), as well as some wet grass and vanilla.
Taste: Nice creamy texture, with quite a peppery arrival, followed by hints of honey and hay, with finally some cloves as well.
Finish: Slightly bitter, before mellowing into light summer fruits. Medium in length
Not exactly mind-blowing stuff here, as it is pretty straightforward and a tad simple. However, there’s nothing wrong with it. Easygoing, that’s what this is.
Photo: Master of Malt
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.