Balblair has always maintained a soft spot in my heart due to the wonderful whiskies that the distillery has produced over the years. I have previously also mentioned that Balblair tends to do good bourbon-matured and great sherry-matured whiskies.
But what happens when the distillery comes up with an expression which encompasses elements of both?
As I have previously delved into the history of the distillery as well as reviewed a few expressions from them, I will not revisit the topic and instead point readers in the direction of where the information can be found: Balblair
I do harbour the intention to make a pilgrimage to the distillery one day in the hopefully near future as it would be interesting to see just how similar (or different) their production process is to that of other distilleries.
The focus of today’s review would be a Balblair which was distilled in 1999, initially matured in a mix of first-fill and second-fill American oak bourbon casks before being finished in European oak sherry butts and bottled at 46% abv as a Travel Retail Exclusive offering.
So, let’s dive right into the review!
Balblair 1999 17 Years Old (46% abv, Travel Retail Exclusive)
Nose: Initial entry is perfumed and alcoholic, with hints of pineapple, mango and apricot. The bourbon and sherry influences on this dram are rather distinct and provide a rather interesting integration of flavours.
Oak and honey intermingle with hints of cracked black pepper, cinnamon and allspice to provide the sweet and spicy bourbon-esque notes, while sweet malt and barley sugar intermingle with the sherry to provide the rounded and sweet sherried notes. (21/25)
Palate: Initial entry is sweet, spicy and fruity in equal measure, with chewy malt, barley sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cracked black pepper intermingling beautifully with the pineapple, mango and apricot notes detected on the nose.
The sherry influence is apparent but not as pronounced as the nose seemed to suggest, whereas the bourbon influence grows in stature and influence over time. The wood spices and cracked black pepper also provide a nice warming feel and there is a touch of lemon zest towards the end. (22/25)
Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with the oak, fruits, spices, sherry and malty sweetness working in tandem with one another. It gets increasingly drying as time progresses, but the initial oily character doesn’t fade away completely, instead choosing to linger on in the background. (19/25)
Balance: A fairly well-balanced dram which exhibits the two halves of the maturation process working in tandem rather well, although it must be said that the longer term bourbon maturation has a stronger hold on the character of this dram in comparison to the relatively shorter sherry finish. The integration of flavours is superb as well! (20/25)
I really enjoyed this expression of Balblair as it showcased just how good the distillery is with regard to producing quality bourbon and sherry matured whiskies.
Considering that this was more of a finish rather than a vatting, the bourbon influence is definitely stronger, although it must be said that the sherry finish does help to smooth out the rough edges somewhat.
This expression of Balblair can be purchased from Duty Free Singapore for approximately $105, while stocks last. I would highly recommend that this expression is given a try as it is an easy-drinking whisky which exhibits a good amount of complexity.
Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.
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