Michael K. recently offered me a sample of this and I took him up on it saying I’d finished my own bottle well before the blog. That statement is true but, as with the Redbreast 12 CS, it turns out I had already reviewed it in the summer of 2013, when the blog was relatively new, and had just completely forgotten. Now I’ve got no shortage of never-reviewed whiskies (samples and bottles) on my shelves but it was sort of interesting to re-review that Redbreast and also this Ben Nevis recently, and so I decided I’d give this another go as well. I have not looked at my previous notes or exact score again before this second go-around. Let’s see if I come up with much variance.
(You can read Michael’s own review here, which as it happens was also posted in late-2013—I’ve avoided looking at his notes as well.)
Balblair 1997-2009 (43%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: A little grassy with tart green apple, gooseberry and some lemon; hints of muskier fruit too (melon). A little sweeter and more rounded on the second sniff. The musky note expands as it sits but it also picks up a chalky edge. With more time the chalky, grassy and more sharply acidic notes subside markedly and it’s nicely balanced between the tart, sweet and musky notes. Water emphasizes the sweeter, muskier notes even more.
Palate: Starts out a little blank and then the tart fruit comes in, followed by biscuity malt which transitions into sweeter notes heading to the finish. On the second sip the oak is more apparent on the palate. The mouthfeel is quite nice for 43%. The oak gets more pronounced and just a touch tannic as it goes (but it’s not offensive); no other development. Nothing interesting here with water and the mouthfeel is done no favours by the addition.
Finish: Medium. The sweet notes yield to a touch of peppery, spicy oak. The fruit hangs around longer into the finish with each sip. As on the palate with time and water.
Comments: I liked this more than I remember doing. There’s nothing very exciting going on here but it’s a very pleasurable, uncomplicated malt with no real flaws. I wonder if it would have been fruitier still at 46% or if the oak, which did get stronger as it went on, would have thrown the balance off.
Rating: 85 points.
Thanks to Michael K. for the sample!