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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Balblair 27 year old 1993 SMWS 70.42

Yesterday, it was a 44.4%abv 26yo Balblair. Today, it's a 60.2%abv 27yo Balblair. From one extreme to another. And yes, I did try them side by side.

While yesterday's Cadenhead lost 60-65% of its barrel contents, 35-40% of this barrel's whisky evaporated over a similar time period. The Cadenhead gave up plenty of alcohol, while this SMWS lost a lot of water. Was this refill barrel coopered better/tighter? Or did it have a nice cool warehouse corner? SMWS named it "Elegant, dark and stormy". I've had elegant Bablairs, but no dark nor stormy stuff from the distillery. Not sure if I'm intrigued or doubtful.

Distillery: Balblair
Ownership: Inver House (via Thai Beverages plc via International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)
Region: Northern Highlands
Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 27 years (Jan 1993 - 2020)
Maturation: refill bourbon barrel
Cask #: 70.42 "Elegant, dark and stormy"
Outturn: 180 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 60.2%
(from a bottle split)


Paper, broth, and metal on the nose. Some dried leaves too. It feels closed and hot, like many green-bottle-era Cadenheads. The palate is more approachable. Tart citrus fruits, sweet white fruits. It gets tangier with time, but says hot throughout. It's all a bit vague though, like the finish, which is very hot and kinda fruity-ish.

DILUTED to ~50%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose remains brothy and metallic. Mineral. Still a hint of paper. Subtle notes of brown sugar and lemons swim around in the back. The palate improves, sweet and buoyantly tart. Limes, Demerara, lemon peel-infused honey. It finishes sweet and slightly tart, without any other clear notes.

I'm hesitant to apply additional water to long-aged whisky, but...

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or >1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Yeasty, bready, and floral, with hints of lemon candy and caramel. Not the nose I expected from a 27 year old single malt. Meanwhile, I think the palate is starting to collapse. Salt, pepper, Demerara, and squeeze of lemon are all that remain. It finishes with honey and salt.


Not elegant, not dark, and not stormy, this whisky's money spot is probably around 48%abv. But even then, it couldn't compete with yesterday's Cadenhead. I tried them side-by-side, waiting to sip the 26yo until this SMWS was diluted to 46%abv in order to allow for a more accurate comparison. This 27yo was fine, and I am glad they didn't re-rack it into in a recharred sauternes octave, but Balbair at this age can be so much more.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 81 (diluted)