...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Balblair 5 year old, 1980s botting

As mentioned in Monday's review, I added a third Balblair to the 2003/2005 vintage Taste Off. It was a sample of this:
It's the official 5 year old Balblair from back in the 1980s when "The House of Ballantines" owned the distillery. There were actually two different "Houses of Ballantines" in the 1980s: Hiram Walker, until 1987, and then Allied Domecq after that. No matter who actually released this version, (due to math) the spirit was distilled and barreled by Hiram Walker.

Before Inver House scooped up the distillery, there was little effort put into bottling a single malt. An NAS with a label similar this 5yo also surfaced in the '80s. Another NAS was bottled in the 1960s, by a previous owner, Robert Cumming. Otherwise, all Balblair went into blends for two centuries.

Distillery: Balblair
Ownership then: Hiram Walker
Region: Northern Highlands
Maturation: probably American oak
Bottled: 1980s
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
(purchased sample from Sjoerd!)

The nose has a great metallic, industrial edge to it, possibly Old Bottle Effect or maybe just Old School Whisky Effect. There's also burlap, lots of limes and a little bit of vanilla. It gets brighter and fruitier with time, picking up notes of apricots and green grapes.

Its mouthfeel is remarkably thick for 40%abv. The palate is full of praline, toffee and vanilla, but that's kept in balance with notes of hay and herbal bitterness. There's more fruit (pear), green herbs and malt after 20+ minutes in the glass.

The active finish has pears and tangy citrus; coriander and black pepper; milk chocolate and toffee. Notes of of ash and caramel candy linger in later sips.

This is very good. Shockingly good, if you need that extra adverb. How the hell did they make five-year-old whisky deliver like this when very few distilleries can hit this quality at thrice that age right now?

I'm not saying this is the best whisky of the '80s. But it's 5. And is diluted to the max. Yet it's a full whisky experience. Wat?

Too bad the secondary market is ahead of me on this one.

Availability - Several European retailers and auctions
Pricing - in auctions it'll run near or over $100, retailers have it for $115-$185 (booooo)
Rating - 87


  1. Surprisingly good indeed! I really enjoyed this bottle, to the exact same extend as you did, according to our points.

    1. Ah ha! Found your review. Adding the link right now...