Balblair 1989 (3rd Release)

Balblair 1989 2.jpg

I’ve had very few whiskies from the Balblair distillery. And personally I think I’m missing out.

So before we get into the whisky, I need to ask myself: Why is that? Well probably due to my own biases.

I love Islays and Lowlands. A lot. They are tasty as heck to me. And I tend to not enjoy Highland Whisky that much. Or put much stock in Whisky books or awards.

And then comes along Balblair 1989. A whisky that has won many an award, and was even in both of the whisky books I’m working through.

It’s NAS, with a year to tell us which Vintage it is. So half NAS, I guess. Or maybe I’m missing when it was released and therefore I don’t know the age. Please correct me, and since this is the internet, call me a jackass and do it in a negative tone.

EDIT: I have been corrected. This is 22 years old.

It’s from a region I’m not too fond of. It’s non-chill filtered and has no colour added though. Yet it’s not cask strength.

So I’m at an impasse. There’s some red flags. Not “she screams out daddy in bed” kinda red flags, more so “all of her female friends have only known her a year” kinda red flag. Or for those of you who date men, not the “he says he’d kill everyone if I left him” kinda red flag, more so the “he gets angry at random moments” kinda red flag.

But maybe, just maybe, I should. So I bought a sample last summer and now have time to try it. So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Balblair 1989 1.jpg

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Highland

Abv: 46%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/4

Nose: Mango, cereal, corn syrup, honey, caramel pudding, peach cobbler, ginger, peanut

Wow. I’m actually surprised. Big nose on this. Takes some time to grow really. Very syrupy, like sex with a maple tree (joke stolen from CaH).

Given some time and patience, the sweet, complex side comes out. It’s really quite sweet.

Taste: Orange, peach, peppery, cereal, lemongrass

So two things: I can see why people love this. The mouth feel is great. Thick even. Not too hot. More fruit like before, and the lemongrass is always a complex, nice treat.

That’s the only thing complex about it, though. It doesn’t match the nose for complexity. It’s consistent though. And that mouth feel is like oil, but in a good way, not a “I’m dying in tar” way.

Finish: Caramel, salt, lemon, wood, coriander, pepper/arugula, smoke

And the finish amps it up a little. The wood notes aren’t over done, and any combination of salt and caramel is “so hot right now”. Don’t believe me? Check out the yogurt section some time.

Again, not as complex as the nose, yet it’s well balanced, and the little wisps of smoke at then end are nice. I’m guessing that’s from some random thoughts in my head taking wood influence to be smoke rather than anything else.

Conclusion: So this surprised me. First off, the 3rd edition of Balblair 1989 is actually a higher proof than older versions. And that’s after they won awards. So I’m impressed.

Also the nose is really a treat for a sweet lover like myself. Really enjoyed it.

So is it worth having? I’d say yes. It’s a good dram, all around. nice dram. The kind of whisky you can give to a snob like me or a newbie and they will both find things to love.

So I was wrong. Gotta try more Balblairs moving forward. Fun.


Scotch review #427, Highland review #80, Whisky Network review #682

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #284

101 Whiskies to try before you die review #66.

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