As per Whiskybase, there have been 44 casks of Blair Athols from 1988 released in the last three years. I guess someone acquired a huge parcel of those casks and sold them on. And given that most of the releases are from Signatory, I’d guess they’re that someone and are the source for many of the other indie releases as well. Given that there were a decent number released just last year, I suspect we’ll continue to see Blair Athol 1988s for a while.
I’ve previously reviewed three other 1988s in the 25-26 yo range. I very much liked this 25 yo from van Wees and this 26 yo from Signatory for K&L; this 26 yo—also from van Wees—I liked a bit less. The one I’m reviewing now was bottled by La Maison Du Whisky, the famed Paris whisky store. It’s part of their “Artist” series—all of which have very pretty labels. As to whether the prettiness of the labels says anything about the contents of the bottles, I don’t know; I do know the bottles are pretty expensive. I didn’t pay for a whole bottle of this one; this was part of a bottle split—which is really a very good way to try a lot more whiskies than would be feasible otherwise. Anyway, let’s see if this is as good as the others.
Blair Athol 25, 1988 (57.3%; La Maison Du Whisky, Artist #4, Second Batch; 2nd fill sherry butt #6857; from a bottle split)
Nose: Oranges, cola and pencil lead in the first wave. With more time there’s some oak, nail polish remover and also a slightly metallic note mixed in with the orange. With even more time, the apricot from the finish starts showing up here as well. The metallic note expands a bit with water; the fruit gets stickier too, first a bit, then a lot.
Palate: Everything from the nose is here bar the cola; and the oak is amplified. Very drinkable at full strength. Fruitier with every sip, with orange, apricot and a hint of overripe peach; some cocoa powder as well. Let’s see what water does for it. Brighter with water and less oaky.
Finish: Long. An unexpected but very welcome burst of rich fruit a few beats after I swallow: apricot and also a bit of papaya. Some pepper here too. Brighter and less oaky here too with water but the richer fruit gives way to the citrus.
Comments: This is a very pleasant, sherried whisky: not a tannic sherry bomb by any means, and there’s none of the leafy/organic complex either that’s not uncommon with sherried whiskies. The fruit that develops on the palate and especially the finish is very nice indeed. A little more of the fruit and a little more complexity and it would have been headed into the next tier. I liked the nose better with water and the palate and finish without.
Rating: 89 points.