Another in Diageo’s “Flora & Fauna” series. Blair Athol is a distillery in the Highlands; it is not terribly well-known and it doesn’t put out much by way of official single malt (this expression may be it). Most of its output goes into the Bell’s blend. There’s not very much of its malt available from independents either. I’ve had a somewhat blank 12 yo, 1998 in Signatory’s UCF series and that did not inspire me to hunt down more–there are a couple from Signatory and Douglas Laing on the US market, and lately there seems to be an older one from Duncan Taylor as well (any feedback on these would be greatly appreciated). This official sherried bottling I purchased with some confidence as it has a decent reputation, and as I quite enjoyed the similarly sherried entries in the series from Mortlach and Dailuaine.
Blair Athol 12, “FLora & Fauna” (43%; from a reference sample reserved from my own bottle).
The bottle itself is long gone, but I saved 6 ounces when it was first opened and this is my first crack at the sample.
Nose: Pleasant, standard-issue sherry notes. Oranges, light hints of chocolate and some caramel. Something earthy about it too. A slight whiff of smoke. A little more salt with time.
Palate: Almost exactly as on the nose. Citrus plus maybe a little apricot followed by caramel. Not as much chocolate on the palate but there’s definitely some wood smoke here (nothing that would upset the peat-phobic). Not complex, but very nice. The smoke gets a little more prominent as it sits and there’s a greater bitterness too
Finish: There’s a little bit of bitterness leading into the finish, and then citrus and a touch of salt are the final impressions.
Comments: Nothing that’ll make you jump and down with joy but it would be a little exhausting if they all did. It’s not very dissimilar from a lot of chunky, sherried Speysiders–though that bit of smoke does separate it from the sherried Balvenies and Aberlours of similar strength. Worth a try if you see it.
Rating: 83 points.