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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Balblair 21 year old Gordon & MacPhail (bottled 2017)

Between 2015 and 2017, Gordon & MacPhail bottled batches of 21 year old Balblair from their prodigious warehouses. I'm thankful they didn't water the whisky down to 40%abv, but it would have been nice if G&M had offered it up in a 46%abv/nc/ncf version once the big indie brand rebooted. Instead they're offering a 12yo 43%abv Balblair.

I don't know what sort of casks are at play in this 21yo, though I'm assuming it was filtered and colored because G&M never stated otherwise. Today's batch was (I think) the 2017 version released in The States. I've always enjoyed the 8-year-old Highland Park from The MacPhail's Collection, so I hope this works as a solid straightforward malt as well.

Distillery: Balblair
Ownership: Inver House (via Thai Beverages plc via International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)
Region: Northern Highlands
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Range: The MacPhail's Collection
Age: at least 21 year old
Maturation: ???
Outturn: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with sour apple candy and cinnamon sticks, followed by Brazil nuts, white flour and roasted corn. There's a pear note in the background that moves from fresh Bartletts to the canned variety.

There's actual malt and wort in the palate! Raw almonds, grapefruit bitters and tapioca pudding fill the middle, while ginger candy rests in the background.

It finishes with barley, salt, peppery heat and just a little bit of caramel candy.


I've seen reviewers refer to whiskies as "honest". I'm not quite sure what that means, nor do I comprehend the use of personification in whisky notes. But maybe this Balblair would be categorized as "honest". It's a simple, uncluttered whisky, not particularly exciting, full of grain, light on oak, and very drinkable. Had I tried this blindly, I would have guessed it was half its actual age, which isn't a bad thing if price is no barrier. Ultimately it doesn't top any of the vintage-era Balblairs (younger or older) that I've tried.

Availability - It's still around
Pricing - $150 and up
Rating - 81

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