Bladnoch 22, 1990, Cask 5070

Here is another useless review. This Bladnoch was distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2013 by the Raymond Armstrong regime (they bottled it but it was distilled by the previous owners, United Distillers). The Raymond Armstrong era at Bladnoch, sadly, ended a couple of years ago and the new owners have gone the route of premiumization: the very opposite of Raymond’s approach. Well, this bottle is gone too. It was a single bourbon cask. I purchased it (and a few other Bladnochs) when the sale of the distillery was announced, and I opened it for one of my local group’s tastings last year. It did well enough there but I felt it improved as the bottle stayed open in the months following. These notes were taken towards the very end of the bottle when it had faded a bit again. I wish I’d thought of also recording my notes at the top and middle of the bottle. So it goes.

Bladnoch 22, 1990 (51.7%; cask 5070; from my own bottle)

Nose: Bright and acidic with lemon, lemon zest and the occasional richer whiff of orange. Quite briny too and there’s also a leafy, slightly grassy component. With time the citrus moves from lemon to orange here. Water, as it so often does, brightens things up again and also draws out more of the leafy/herbal notes.

Palate: Lemon and lemon zest here too with a good dose of white pepper. A bigger burst of fruit as I swallow. On the second sip there’s more oaky spice and bite. More orange with time here too but the spicy notes get a metallic edge. Sweeter and fruitier with water (the peach from the finish) and the spice expands too.

Finish: Long. Alas, that burst of fruit doesn’t expand into the finish—it’s mostly about oak and pepper here and it’s not terribly interesting. Oh wait, the fruit does begin to show up after a few minutes but there’s not much depth to it, at first anyway. With more time there’s some peach and pineapple. As on the palate with water.

Comments: This started off as a pleasant summer sipper with lots of bright fruit and then developed some subtle, fruity complexities in keeping with its age. There was more depth of the flavour at the middle of the bottle’s life. Still, at the reasonable price asked for this when it came out, it’s hard to complain about any of it.

Rating: 86 points.

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