Here is another of K&L’s recent exclusive casks to close the week out. Like Monday’s Glenfiddich, I mean “Hector Macbeth”, this one is a twenty something in age and from a sherry cask; unlike it, however, it wears its distillery’s name openly: Blair Athol. K&L has had at least one other sherried Blair Athol of a similar age as part of their exclusives before—and indeed so have a lot of bottlers in the EU. I’ve reviewed a few of them but those were all casks of whisky distilled in the late 1980s. This one is from 1995. As it turns out, Whiskybase lists a large number of casks from 1995 that have been bottled by various indies. They have only two listed from 1994, only one from 1996 and then a whole bunch again from 1997. Clearly the supply of older Blair Athols wanes and waxes—there must be a lot of it moving around for blending purposes. Well, whatever the reason, I’m glad to see this one. Blair Athol of this age from a sherry cask is a pretty reliable proposition and the odds are good that this will get this run of K&L casks back in the right direction after the relative disappointment of Monday’s Glenfiddich (You may recall that I previously enjoyed the teenaged Craigellachie and Bunnahabhain). Let’s see if that’s indeed how it goes.
Blair Athol 24, 1995 (55.6%; Old Particular for K&L; sherry butt 14247; from a bottle split)
Nose: Nutty, slightly beany sherry notes that ease into sweeter raisin. Below them are some spicy oak and dried orange peel. Maltier on the second sniff with toffee joining the party. The oak gets a little mentholated as it sits and the malt and toffee get quite biscuity. Some apricot too now with the citrus. With water the biscuity malt expands, the citrus gets brighter and the apricot expands; some gingerbread too now.
Palate: Comes in a little dry with the orange peel and the oak in the lead. Good weight and approachable but it does have a bit of a bite at full strength—it should open up nicely with water. On the second sip there’s a leafy note and more oak. With time the oak backs off a bit and the fruit gets sweeter earlier. Okay, let’s add some water. Ah yes, the malt emerges fully and is joined by the orange peel, the apricot and some salted nuts—the oak merely provides a spicy frame now.
Finish: Long. Sweeter and fruitier as it goes but then the spicy oak picks up at the end, leaving a nice tingle. As on the palate with water: the oak backs off and the softer and sweeter notes come to the fore.
Comments: This is a very good sherried whisky—not a massive sherry bomb one way or the other, more Glenfarclas than Glendronach. Neat, there’s just a bit too much oak on the palate for my liking but water fixes that. The only thing holding it back is a lack of complexity. But if you’re looking for an elegant, older sherried whisky that’s not trying to hit you over the head with sherry then this is for you (if still available, which it probably is not).
Rating: 88 points.
EW! Rating: 140/100 points.