Whisky Review – Balblair Tweet Tasting: Balblair 2003, Balblair 1990 2nd Release & Balblair 1983

just concluded a Tweeter tasting of 3 new vintages from Balblair Distillery.


Here’s the PR blurb for you:

The latest vintages – 1990, 1983 and 2003 – from Balblair are being launched in the brand’s new premium front-opening gift boxes.

Balblair recently changed its 2003 Vintage packaging to a premium front opening box, replacing the regular top opening carton. All bottles (70cl) of Balblair whisky are now available in this style.

Curious Orange, an agency based in Glasgow, created the original packaging design, which is still constant throughout the range. Gillian Gibson, Balblair brand manager comments: “We have updated our youngest Vintage offering, this now means that the whole range of Balblair Vintages are presented in premium, front-opening gift boxes. We have done this to align the range; it is perfect timing and coincides with Christmas and the launch of the new Balblair 2003, 1990 and 1983 Vintages. Gifting whisky at Christmas is very popular and consumers want to gift a whisky that looks special. This bespoke packaging adds that special touch to the new Vintages.”

The new range of Balblair vintage Highland single malt whiskies (46%abv natural colour non chill-filtered) comprises: Balblair 1990 second release RRP £84.99; Balblair 2003 first release RRP £40.99; and Balblair 1983 first release RRP £200.

But you probably ask – “But how does it taste”? So here’s the tasting notes for you with my own conclusion/thoughts after it:

Balbair 2003 Vintage (46%, Buy here for £37.95)

BB03Nose: Malty. Vanilla and sweet. Very highland-like profile, with some creamy lemon, butterscotch , honey. Then some citrus show up with younger notes, fruity, lots of esters, light spice (gingery). Overall, a light, crisp, clean and fruity nose.

Palate: Starts with malty notes, lemon, citrus, vanilla then evolving and getting sharp spices zing – pepper and ginger, some young spirit notes but smooth. fresh, and spice tingling.

Finish: short-medium some light wood finally shows up, spicy (with lots of white pepper) turning to gums numbing tingling dryness, nice balance, not too complex, but good session drink.

Balbair 1990 Vintage – 2nd Release (46%, Buy here for £82.1)

BB90Nose: Sherry-land but not overly sweet – heavy raspberries, some sultanas and plums, rich, nuts, ripe fruits (banana), old cardboard/aged wood. could sniff at this all day long. This is a laid-back, no pushy one. Given some more time in glass,  we get some tropical fruits notes, toffee, nutmeg. Very fruity, lushy, ace nose!

PalateOh this starts spicy! cinnamon, nutmeg, some dark sherry (raspberry is leading the way here), chocolate, warming at the end, delicate and smooth, sweetness all over but very subtle. after a while, tropical notes get stronger and more detectable.

Finish: Warm, dark & sweet with some ‘dirty’ feeling (kind of soot/ash feeling, but no smoke or peat at all), long lingering one, some whiffs of oak, very fruity, very lushy. it’s fantastic at neat form, Helluva of a dram, allowing the sherry casks to have a say but just support the spirit and not take over.

Balbair 1983 Vintage (46%, RRP £200)

BB83Nose: Starts herbal, tropical fruits (Mango and banana), not as sweet as previous two, getting creamer over time, vanilla, greenery (freshly cut grass, unripe fruits) and it evolves over time – now fudge and sweet malt instead of herbal and tropical fruits. With some water now there are more spicy notes and more fudge. The tropical fruits notes makes a cameo for a minute and then old books and cardboard, pencil shaving notes shows up. This one is lighter and fresher relatively to age, intense but elegant.

Palate: Sweet ,tropical fruits, some mellow oak, coating the mouth and then, bang, massive warming and wood spices at the back of the mouth. once this spices attack dies, its stay fruity and sweet.

Finish: Mellow, old oak lingers for long time, sweetness of vanilla and fruits. creamy. real delicious.

Conclusion: close call, but I’d call the 1990 vintage the winner this time. the 1983 is a 100% different beast and is superb, but the 1990 is special and way more affordable and highly recommended for the holidays season. Slainte!


1 thought on “Whisky Review – Balblair Tweet Tasting: Balblair 2003, Balblair 1990 2nd Release & Balblair 1983

  1. Carissa Hickling

    Sampled the 03 twice now! Once when Stuart Harvey came to Mumbai and again with our new Whisky Ladies group where Karen Walker shared her insights. Quite like what Balblair is doing and looking forward to exploring further.


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