Thanks to /u/cake_my_day for this sample
If you’ve been watching my whisky reviews like a hound, then may I suggest a new hobby, because I write a lot of reviews.
You’ll also know I make that joke way too much. However you’d also note that I’ve reviewed a Balblair 1990 (2nd Edition) before. So why such a quite re-review?
Simply put, I found out there’s been many different bottling of Balblair 1990 (2nd Edition), with 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 being different dates.
It would seem this particular run was taken out of the ex-bourbon barrel after 21 years, then placed in ex-Oloroso casks which were tapped over and over again.
Leaving us to now have editions and bottlings from this one, all of which slowly grow more and more and thus have different flavour profiles. I’m not going to go all crazy hunting them down, however it would be interesting to compare this one (the 2013) to the 2017 I had recently.
So let’s see the difference, shall we?
Price: $296.00 CAD at the LCBO
Colour: 10YR 5/6
Nose: Strawberry, brown sugar, apricot, peach, vanilla, grassy
Less sherry influence, which should come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone, as it’s been in the sherry cask less time.
Still grassy, a lot less spice has come out. More brown sugar and stone fruit here. The ex-Bourbon elements are still noticeable. I don’t love the lack of red fruits compared to the 2017 edition.
Taste: Orange, lemon peel, earth, grass, anise, cloves, brown sugar
Still has some citrus, however it’s more noticeable up front. More earth, more grass, less of the spice, as with the nose, though that can be teased out.
I’m seeing why this was put into an Oloroso cask after many years. The ex-bourbon had given it some interesting flavours, however they weren’t too strong or complex.
Finish: Cumin, heather, brown sugar, fennel, candied lemon
So again, less spice (save for some anise/fennel notes), the brown sugar has evolved as much, and we’re seeing absolutely no red fruit. The earth is still sharp.
That said, the finish has some interesting notes, or at least some different ones.
Conclusion: If you handed this to me and said it was 14 years, I’d be impressed. If you said it was ex-Oloroso sherry finished, I’d mention that it wasn’t given enough time. I may even keep bringing out different editions as it grew.
It wasn’t up to the age, the complexity, or anything like that. It’s citrus on the taste, has some nice fruit on the nose, and then finishes nicely but nothing too crazy. I’m glad they waited, and I’d greatly recommend the 2017 version over this one.
Scotch review #680, Highland review #116, Whisky Network review #1139