Balblair 2003, First US Release


So few Balblairs reviewed on this blog. It’s almost as though I have something against Balblair. But I assure you that this is not true. I am pro-Balblair; while I could not say that some of my best friends are Balblairs (I barely even know any people named Blair), I am certainly Balblair-positive. Which is not to say that I have been infected by Balblair, merely that I am positively inclined towards Balblair. Why is this? you ask. Well, I cannot say. It’s not the case that I’ve had any Balblairs that have made me want to rhapsodize (though I do have a sample of one from the mid-1960s that might fit that description). But their whiskies are always solid and they put vintages and age markers on them, and generally don’t engage in much marketing malarkey. I am hoping to stop at the distillery on our planned trip to Scotland in June, and may even attempt to convey my appreciation of these qualities to a befuddled distillery employee. But enough folly! What Balblair is this? It is a 11 or 12 yo from the 2003 vintage. The first US release, says the label from the industrious Michael K.—which leads me to believe that there may have been another twelve or seventeen releases since. Well, I don’t know if any of those have been any good but I will soon be able to tell you what I think of this one. 

Balblair 2003, First US Release (46%; released in 2015; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: Lemon, tart apple and some yeasty/bready notes come wafting up as I pour. Malty, musky notes too on the second sniff. The yeasty/bready thing gets stronger as it sits. No interesting change to report with water.

Palate: Sweeter to start on the palate but the lemon (zest), apple and malt come right in behind. Nice bite and texture at full strength. Gets yeastier as it sits. Water pushes the yeast note into chalk territory and it’s an improvement.

Finish: Long. The oak comes out here with some menthol coolness and just a bit of spice (clove). Gets peppery with time. Sweeter here with water.

Comments: This is pleasant enough but nothing close to remarkable. Those yeasty/bready notes are a bit too pronounced for my liking, especially neat. I liked it better with water and, on the whole, I suspect this would go down a lot better in the summer with some ice melting in it.

Rating: 82 points.

Thanks to Michael K. for the sample!

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