What was the occasion: Frankly? There were two Balblair whiskies in my apartment, and that’s two more than normal. I am not a Balblair stan. I’m not out here, arguing that Blackpink has nothing on this Highland distillery. Nor am I wondering if Phase 4 of Balblair will outdo Phase 4 of the MCU (though frankly that’s only a middle bar to beat).
What whisky did we review? Balblair 8 2012 Blackadder, an independently bottled single Sherry cask Balblair that was released by Blackadder in their typical “don’t mess with it” fashion.
If you ain’t chewing the charcoal, did you ever even drink a Blackadder release? A question for the ages along with “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?” and “If Michael Keaton unalived himself in Multiplicity, would it be genocide?”
That last one is a Ruston Kelly quote, btw.
But enough navel gazing, what’s up with Balblair? And perhaps airline peanuts?
What’s the distillery? Balblair goes all the way back to 1790, though it was rebuilt in 1895 because we can’t have 18th century architecture outdoing what I assume was the near-futuristic look of Edderton, Scotland.
The main thing to know about Balblair is it’s no longer the family run company that it started as, and since 1996 has been owned by Inver House Distillers. Thus you’ll have it served (sometimes) alongside Old Pulteney or Speyburn or Balmenach or anCnoc.
What’s my bias? Bal what now? I kid, a bit, of course, but I wasn’t kidding during the occasion section: I’m not really someone who hunts down a lot of Balblair.
The main vintage/age stated releases typically are watered down to 46%. I get why; you need to make a certain amount of money to make the investors happy. Shareholder capitalism is the box of horse manure that keeps on being passed around to all of us. That said, it’s a slightly premium distillery that isn’t releasing cask strength whisky regularly. Thus I”m going to miss it.
That said, my bias beyond that reasonable take is I actually like Balblair. Based on my reviews, quite a bit actually. So it’s quite funny that I avoid buying bottles while looking at my scores. You’d wonder why I haven’t had as many Balblairs as I’ve had Bunnahabhains, for instance. Heck, I’m wondering about it right now.
Which is why it’s a good idea to re-examine your bias and your point of views, less you become the stagnant old people that we only trust to run 99% of our lives through politics and business.
Let’s stop with the sad comments and get to the whisky, shall we?
Price: € 107
Vintage: November 5, 2012
Bottled: February 2, 2021
Cask type: Sherry Cask
Cask number: 3232
Number of bottles 200
Colour: 7.5YR 5/8
Nose: Nectarine (more bushels than a grocery store), cereal, sugar syrup, hops, daisies, white cake
Wow, that’s quite fruity. And not “they sold me overproofed sherry” way, but more in a “that’s a lot of stone fruit” way, Balblair way. Impressive, though it takes a bit of time/water to have something more than “sugar by way of breakfast”.
This quote gag doing anything for you yet? I’m thinking of dropping it. We’ll “see” (shit).
I like the dank/floral notes that eventually come out on this one. Give it a bit extra time to open up.
Taste: Molasses, nectarine, strawberry, green banana, cinnamon
More sweet, more stone fruit (but a manageable amount), and some of the sherry is showing up. It’s rare to have a dram that the sherry isn’t totally dominating these days. Which, in my case, is my preferred way. See all the complaints I get about Bunnahabhain 18 for reference (I felt it tasted too much like a Cognac when I wanted a whisky).
Some starch, a bit of heat/spice, and fruit. I like the taste a lot more than the nose at first, though the limits due to age eventually kick in on the taste, while the nose grows up and sells appliances, like that one bully who Facebook messaged you 6 years ago and apologized. It was something, at least.
Finish: Cloves, nectarine, earthy/floral, lime, grass, cinnamon candy
More solid, Balblair/Sherry flavours, all sharing the finish, like an egalitarian threesome. I was going to go more in-depth there but it’s a common occurrence in this day and age. How else do you afford a home?
Less heavy on the nectarines at the end. Which I guess goes to show how powerful Balblair can be at the end of the day.
Conclusion: Solid/Big flavours, though really heavy on nectarines. It’s your typical young whisky. Well, the typical kind we used to get, that used to be cheap, that used to be worth it. But that’s a rant to be peppered in future reviews.
Would I buy a bottle of this? Based on the flavours and the complexity, yes, though I like stone fruit. A lot, actually. So I can look beyond nectarine. Would I recommend it? That’s debatable. My bias is obvious: I like strong whiskies that don’t get dominated by sherry (sorry BDSM fans). The flavours are things I like.
If you would prefer more sherry or less nectarine/stone fruit flavours, I’d skip it, or just have a dram, or split with a buddy (like your house).
Scotch review #1632, Highland review #275, Whisky Network review #2362