It’s time for my annual Blair Athol review. I’ve not reviewed very many of them and all the ones I’ve previously reviewed have been from sherry casks, I believe (this includes the official 12 yo Flora & Fauna release which may or may not be still a thing). This one, however, is from a bourbon cask, and like many of K&L’s casks from their recent release it’s from a refill hogshead. It’s always interesting to try a malt in a different guise than its norm and refill hogsheads are—in principle anyway—a good thing. Let’s see if this one rewards that confidence.
Blair Athol 21, 1997 (56.1%; Old Particular for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Malt, a bit of sugar, some apple. Pleasant but somewhat generic right off the bat. With a bit of time there’s some more sweeter fruit (berries of some kind) but it’s still not terribly interesting. With more time there’s some vanilla and some pastry crust. With time and a few drops of water the fruit is a little more pronounced.
Palate: Much more character here: lemon, malt, cereals, tingly oak. Very approachable at full strength and it has a nice oily texture. The fruit gets muskier faster with each sip and is joined by some waxy lemon peel, honey and just a bit of powdered ginger. Okay, let’s see what water does for it. Hmmm… it seems to make it more acidic and bring out some pepper.
Finish: Medium-long. The fruit gets muskier as it goes. As on the palate with water except more gingery than peppery.
Comments: A little ho-hum on the nose but a big dose of fruit on the palate and finish without overbearing oak (I’d guess a second or third-fill cask). Reminded me more of Glenburgies I’ve had than any Blair Athol I remember. $110 for a 21 yo malt of this character is a pretty good deal. And if you do get a bottle I’d recommend going easy with water.
Rating: 87 points.