...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Single Malt Report: Blair Athol 11 year old 1998 Signatory UCF (cask 2757)

This week I'm participating in a so-called dietary cleanse.  No dairy, no gluten, no processed sugar, and no alcohol.  Normally, I have no interest in cleanses.  People should consciously moderate their intake of toxins and troublesome dietary elements so that an abrupt purge isn't necessary.  But it's become obvious that moderation hasn't been one of my strong points since my stay-at-home-father gig began.

I've completed the first day of the cleanse and I haven't eaten the neighbors, yet.  Though my daughter got wise and hitched a ride to another state.  In classic fashion I did four whisky reviews in the thirty-six hours before the cleanse so that this blog would have some sort of content over the next two weeks.  The sacrifices...
Label information written by foot
Anyway, Blair Athol!  Blair Athol?  This the second Blair Athol review in this calendar year.  What the hell?  That's twice as many graded reviews as I've done of Bowmore in 2014.  If you missed my first exciting Blair Athol review, here's the link.  It was of a 25 year old single cask release by the independent Dutch bottler, Van Wees.  And it was very good (89 points worth).

I've had quite some luck with Van Wees.  I've also had a lot of luck with Signatory.  Signatory has a number of different ranges but the two most familiar ones are their Cask Strength and Unchillfiltered collections.  Today's Blair Athol is an 11 year old single hogshead from the Unchillfiltered Collection.  And it arrives courtesy of Florin (a prince).

Distillery: Blair Athol
Age: 11 years 1 month (4/8/98 - 5/8/09)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask #: 2757
Bottle: 250 of 361
Region: Highlands (Central)
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

The color is a very pale amber.  At first the nose is bready and yeasty with some butter, caramel, and pencil shavings.  But moments later it opens up into mango and grapefruit.  Then it expands further into lavender and violet (flowers, not soap).  Then some more patience brings fresh orange pulp and sea air.  The palate leads with grasses and dried leaves, followed by oranges and limes.  Caramel pudding, maybe some peppery spice and a candy cane.  It's effervescent but very delicate.  Its sweetness gradually expands.  The finish seems shortish at first but then comes back for a second round, boomerang-style.  Lots of citrus peels, lager, dried leaves, pepper, and cocoa powder.

This was much too fragile for water, almost as if it were 40%abv.  That being said, I like it a lot.  While the palate isn't terribly complex, it's very pleasant.  It's the nose that thrills.  It opens and opens and opens like a little blossom in the sun.  It's all pretty.  I'm considering tracking down a bottle, especially since my wife likes it.  She and scotch whisky are acquaintances but not pals, so this a rare thing.  Gives me an excuse to say, "Hey, I bought you a present!"

Availability - Scarce (US)
Pricing - $60-$70
Rating - 87


  1. Whole 30?

    Also, the last sentence reminded me of this episode: http://www.hulu.com/watch/30910

    1. This comment is only here because I forgot to check the "Notify me" box.

    2. Holey moley, as soon as I saw it was The Simpsons I knew exactly which episode it was!

      The cleanse-thing is very similar to Whole 30, except it allows legumes (which we're doing only once this week). It also allows for stevia and faking baked treats, neither of which we're doing.

  2. Sounds like a good one. I wonder how the 1999/2010 Signatory Blair Athol that's around compares.



    1. I think Florin may have gotten his from Wine & Cheese. Some of their stuff is priced very well, including that bottle.

      Since I'm 2 for 2 on Blair Athols and Signatory's UCF stuff is pretty reliable, I'd figure the '99 is at least decent. Even better if it's kept in the $50-$55 range like TPS has it.

    2. Binny's has the 1999 for $55 and has the benefit of actually shipping.

    3. Looks like Florin and MAO have swooped in just in time to end the Blair Athol love-in.

      So perhaps it's a crapshoot?

    4. No, I only chimed in because this bottle sounds so much better than the blank cipher of a whisky that was the last young Signatory UCF Blair Athol from a bourbon cask that I tried.

    5. I's just kidding. Maybe I've been lucky, but I don't think I've had a disappointing Signatory UCF whisky. Or perhaps I haven't had enough. An excuse to buy more.

  3. Sounds a lot better than a Signatory UCF 1997-2009 I had, which had a beany/bready/yeasty thing going on and nothing else: it was almost blank. This was before I started keeping an ocd spreadsheet so I don't recall the cask number.

    1. OCD spreadsheet? Is this like a TPS report? This wasn't blank by any measure, but I also didn't like it as much as Michael did. I thought it was quite nice, soft, yet with a good body. Floral and mildly malty, but not rich. I would buy Blair Athol again, but probably not this bottle.

    2. TPS reports have nothing on my current whisky spreadsheet. It's the way in which I maintain the illusion that I am in control of this obsession.

  4. This is indeed the TWCP bottle Jordan.