Earlier in the month I began a series of reviews of recent exclusive casks from the Whisky Barrel with a 10 year old Bunnahabhain from a first-fill oloroso hogshead. That one handily surpassed my low expectations. Here now is another 10 yo from a first-fill oloroso hogshead, this time a Balblair. Will this turn out to be as good? I can’t think of any recent sherry bomb Balblairs I’ve had. Anyway, let’s see.
Balblair 10, 2009 (59.4%; The Whisky Barrel; first-fill oloroso hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Big sherry (raisins, orange peel, a metallic note) mixed in with roasted malt and some powdered ginger. As it sits a leafy note develops as well. Water brings out some plum sauce.
Palate: Pretty much as indicated by the nose with some oaky bite added on (pretty tannic). Rather hot at full strength. No change on the second sip—maybe more oak extract. This is going to need air and water. Well, not much change with air/time; let’s see what water does. It makes the oak less bitter but I can’t say it improves it dramatically.
Finish: Medium-long. Nothing new develops; mostly it’s just fading alcohol burn. With water the sweeter notes from the palate linger.
Comments: Though it does improve with water, this is rather generic young sherry cask whisky. Between the youth, the sherry and the smaller cask it all feels a bit loud with nothing very interesting to say. Lovers of heavily sherried whiskies may disagree as may bourbon drinkers.
Rating: 82 points.