The sometimes overlooked Balblair can be excellent, so let’s try three official bottlings.
Balblair 2002 First Release (46%, OB, c.2013)
Colour: white wine Nose: spirity at first, giving way to apple, cream, vanilla and fresh grass Mouth: citrus arrival, turning to butter cream, oily in the mouth Finish: surprisingly long, dark chocolate and a touch of licorice, very enjoyable! Comments: Great quality whisky. Not massively complex but well made, very clean, clear and refreshing. 88 points
Balblair 1997 Second Release (46%, OB, c.2013)
Colour: pale straw Nose: really nice, complex, salted butter, apple, custard, red berries Mouth: sweet arrival again, but then something earthy and almost savory in the development, followed by cream Finish: black pepper and oak Comments: So interesting to see the extra cask engagement, though I’m not sure the oak influence is adding to this one. I prefer the younger version. 86 points
Balblair 1989 Third Release (46%, OB, c.2013)
Colour: pale gold Nose: the spice and oak is starting to get going now, cinnamon, clove, and some grapefruit rind Mouth: surprisingly simple, white pepper, orange, apple Finish: marmalade and some bitter oak Comments: feels simpler than the younger expressions 85 points
Proof that sometimes a younger, simpler expression can be the most pleasing. Always an education to do a vertical like this, especially with the help of the stated vintages – a touch which I really like!