In 2014/2015 there were quite a few Blair Athol 1988s on the market, all in the mid-20s age-wise. Many of these were bottled by Signatory—21 of the 47 Blair Athols listed on Whiskybase are from Signatory*; and another 8 are from van Wees, who source from Signatory, I believe. I’ve reviewed some of these: I really liked this 26 yo bottled for K&L; I also liked this 26 yo and this 25 yo, both from van Wees. Most recently, I thought this 25 yo bottled for LMDW was excellent as well (I could be wrong but I think Signatory was the source of this cask as well—if you know differently, please write in below). All of these casks have proximate numbers, by the way, suggesting perhaps that a big parcel of casks was purchased all together by a broker.
Does that guarantee high quality for this one? Let’s see.
Blair Athol 26, 1988 (46%; Signatory; cask 6848; from a bottle split)
Nose: Fruity off the top but more red fruit than I’d expect from a sherry cask: cherry, apple; some rose as well or is that rosewood? With more time there’s a beany/tofu’ish note that I recall having been very prominent in an odd ex-bourbon Blair Athol from Signatory that I’d purchased some 8 years ago. A drop or two of water and…no real change.
Palate: Somewhat blank at first but then there’s some soft fruit and some oak. Not exactly a sherry bomb here either. The texture is fine but it all feels a bit flat. With more time the fruit from the finish pops out earlier. More citrus with water and more bite.
Finish: Medium. Some fruit pops out again here and now there’s some citrus (tangerine peel) and overripe peach.
Comments: Well, this was not what I was expecting. I wonder if the bottle I got a split of this from had been open a good while. Or perhaps it was just a more tired cask. At any rate, water perked the palate up but it was still quite a bit below the other 1988 Blair Athols of comparable age that I’ve had. Pleasant enough though.
Rating: 83 points. (Pulled up by water.)
*I notice, however, that this cask is not listed.