Whisky Tour – Balblair Distillery & Balblair 2003 Review

After a long break due to a new house purchase and move coupled with a very long (and a very deserving!) summer vacation it’s time to resume normal activity here.

I was lucky enough to have a summer vacation in London with a wee getaway to Scotland and in those four days I managed to cross off a few more distilleries from my to-visit list.

The first distillery on this trip was Balblair, a distillery I like a lot for producing good, bodily and well done whisky but the day didn’t pan out as planned.

At first, the sleeper train to Inverness was late, but we had a marvelous view from the train.

view from the sleeper train

The view from the train was breathtaking!

And then extra bureaucracy at the car rental agency and so we were way behind schedule and very late to the booked tour at Balblair. Luckily, with some aid from Waze and few more new white strands on my head, we got to Balblair.


Still late but just in time for the initial gathering with John Mcdonald the distillery manager. (Of course I went for The Manager’s Tour. Ain’t doing it half heartedly 🙂 ) But as soon as we started, we went outside as it was a beautiful, sunny and crisp day outside (all the locals marveled at it all week long as it wasn’t a too common occurrence this summer).gathering with John

John was a great guide, taking us through the regular stations of a working distillery: mill, mashtun, wash backs, distillation and the warehouse, full of wittiness and charm and answering all our questions patiently.

John explains the basics and is proud of the results

The stills at Balblair distillery

The stills at Balblair distillery

Barrels in Balblair dunnage warehouse

Barrels in Balblair dunnage warehouse

A couple of tidbits from the tour for you:

  • Fermentation time at Balblair distillery is 60 hours.
  • Only 15% of the casks are reserved for Balblair single malt bottlings and the rest goes toward blends.
  • Balblair store barrels only in dunnage warehouses.
  • No plans for bio-energy planet as the draft is used entirely by the cattle around (quite lots of cattle around in the area).
  • The vintages whisky boxes shows the nearby landscape 🙂

    boxes design

    Neat thing if you ask me 🙂

After the tour we were thirsty and we were ushered inside for a tasting of 4 Balblair whiskies:

  • glasses lined upBalblair 2003
  • Balblair 1999 2nd release
  • Balblair 1990 2nd release
  • Balblair 1983

I already reviewed three of them here, but at the tour I had the pleasure of trying the 1999 vintage for the first time.


Balblair 1999 2nd release (46%, £49.28/61.33)

john and the lineupNose: There’s a noticeable sherry impact as it’s sweeter and ‘red’ with raspberries, strawberries, sweet red apples, lemon, toffee. Very soft and full.

Palate: Fruity, dark, oak wood, nutmeg, spicy, honey, cereals and chocolate.

Finish: Medium length, lingering sweetness, plums, berries, pepper, mellow liquor.

Then we had to run as we were late for the next appointment (such was the day, themed late late late)

me and John Mcdonalds

Thanks John, it was a great tour!

Name: Balblair Distillery
Owners: InverHouse
Location: Edderton
Water source: Ben Dearg
Stills: 1 Wash still, 1 Spirit still
Capacity (yearly): 1,350,000 litres

Tour in a nutshell

Tours availability: See on their site
Cost of tour: £6-£45
Length of tour: 45min-2 hours
Distillery Exclusive bottles: Yes.
Food: No.


1 thought on “Whisky Tour – Balblair Distillery & Balblair 2003 Review

  1. Pingback: Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies and Karen Walker explore Balblair 03 46% | Whisky Lady

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