Let’s make it three sherried whiskies in a row this week.
My friends Clara and Rob sometimes join in on my European whisky purchases. Sometimes they want specific things (usually the Glenfarclas 15), sometimes they ask me to recommend things they might like and which seem like good values. As I know they like sherried whiskies, and as I really liked the last Blair Athol of similar age from van Wees that I reviewed (this 25 yo, also from 1988), I recommended they take a chance on this one. Van Wees’ selections are always good value. I was happy to hear that they are really enjoying it, and also happy that they shared a couple of ounces with me.
Despite the colour (at a diluted 46%) this one is from a refill sherry cask—European oak maybe? This was bottled late last year.
Blair Athol 26, 1988 (46%; refill sherry cask 6850; from a sample from friends)
Nose: Sweet syrupy orange and polished oak with a touch of leather; some light caramel and toffee too and then some dark honey mixed in with the sweet orange. Gets spicier as it sits with clove and a “cool” note somewhere between rye and pine emerging as well. The orange gets less intense with time and the oak gets more prominent. Also getting a slightly cereally note now. With even more time there’s other fruit too: plum and apricot. With water the orange, plum and apricot get jammed up together quite nicely and there might be some peach too now.
Palate: All the stuff from the nose but much less intense and much more integrated—the mouthfeel’s a little thin. Less of the orange and leather and more of the oak; maybe a touch of milk chocolate. With a little more time it gathers some depth; yes, definitely more oomph now and it’s the orange that’s expanded: more peel here than on the nose. Water doesn’t do the palate any favours, flattening it out further and bringing out a slightly metallic note.
Finish: Medium. Not a whole lot happening here. Gets spicier and a bit sharper as it fades out. Even less interesting with water.
Comments: A dynamite nose that the palate can’t live up to—though it does improve with time—and the finish is weaker still. While this one’s nose bests that of the 25 yo, 1988, the palate and finish are well behind and so I have it below it. Still, if I’d got a bottle too I’d be happy.
Rating: 86 points.