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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