...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Birthday Booze! Balblair 1978, the final chapter

Alas, the last of the Balblair '78.

Distillery: Balblair
Ownership: Inver House Distillers Limited
Age: 30 years (1978-2008)
Maturation: American oak ex-bourbon barrels
Region: The Highlands (North)
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill filtered? No.
Caramel Coloring? No.

I opened it on August 24, 2012 and then reported back.
I drank from it again on August 24, 2013 and wrote about it.
Then I finished it on August 24, 2014.

Okay, and I may have snuck sips here or there.  I'm not the sort of fella who knocks out a 1/3 of a bottle in a sitting, even on my birthday.

To reverse what I wrote in 2013, and confirm what I wrote in 2012, this whisky was bottled in 2008, not 2010.  How do I know this?  Forget any bottling code deciphering.  It's on the damned label:

In the long periods between opening, the whisky was preserved with Private Preserve and I'm pretty confident the stuff worked.  And by "worked" I mean that the whisky was still bursting with richness after a year of the bottle being much less than half full.  But I don't think its nose and palate were frozen in time...

As in 2013's post, I did not look at my previous notes before or during this tasting.

The color is light gold.  The nose has both ripe cantaloupe and under-ripe honeydew, as well as some cucumber.  There's some black licorice/anise and citronella candles.  Subtle notes of milk chocolate and lavender flowers (not soap!).  It's also much woodier than I remember it having been before.  Plenty of wood spices and caramel sauce.  The palate is also spicier than I recall it being before.  There's plenty of sweetness to be found, but it's well complimented by that spice, making it feel very rich.  Fruitwise, there's there a little bit of honeydew, some caramel-covered sour apple, and a lot of tart lemons.  Some notes of chocolate and taffy, too.  The finish gets sweeter and sweeter, and tarter and tarter at the same time, somehow. Subtle bitterness slips in here and there.  The melon and cucumber from the nose return again, along with the flowers.  And there's something smoky lurking in the distance, perhaps from the barrel.

Taking a look back at my notes from the two previous years...... Looks like I did get some oak upon opening it in 2012.  But not much oak in 2013.  In 2013, there was a TON of fruit action going on, which I remember well.  Much of that has now dissipated.  And I think the oak notes have partially replaced it.  In fact, there's something slightly bourbony about the whisky now with all the wood spice, caramel, and sweetness.

If I were to compare the three tastings, I'd say I liked the 2013 the best because the fruit barrage was awesome.  While the oak isn't too overwhelming now, it has started to shove other things out of the way.  I am going give this a lower rating by a few points (*gasp*!), but for the majority of the bottle I'd still give it the 93 point score.  It was a delightful whisky and a pleasure to treasure.

Availability - A few European retailers
Pricing - $250ish (w/shipping, w/o VAT) via UK retailers, otherwise $350ish
Rating - 89 (though the majority of the bottle was 93)


  1. Argon is pretty much the gold standard for preserving liquids. It's heavier than air, which helps to exclude oxygen from the liquid and reduces the rate at which it leaves the bottle.

    1. So with Private Preserve, which I believe is a blend of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and argon, is the benefit of the argon the same? I never knew if the kinetic energy of the molecules would prevent the argon from settling on the bottom.

    2. Shouldn't matter. No different than adding argon to a bottle and not quite displacing all of the original air. It's better if you completely eliminate the other gases, but you'll still get a benefit from adding some argon.

    3. I'll leave the science part to Jordan. From my experience Private Preserve does hold off most oxidation effects. It doesn't seem to be an impenetrable wall, but it is a good option for folks who prefer to keep whisky in its original bottle rather than decanting into smaller bottles. I usually do the latter, unless it's a fancy bottle like this.