Tag Archives: Balblair

Compass Box Myths and Legends 1

The Myths and Legends series from Compass Box was created to challenge some myths and legends about Scotch whisky which became unchallenged facts by the drinkers. The first member in this series, Myths & Legends I, was matured in first-fill bourbon barrels and re-charred American oak barrels, to debunk the myth that a whisky’s region dictates its flavor – it’s all about the casks.

It was blended from a mix of 2 casks parcels from Balblair Distillery. One from 1997 and the other from 2003 (At least according to the whiskybase.com page), so based on this info, it’s in fact a 16 Year Old (or so) single malt from Balblair, and whenever it’s not a single cask whisky, blending is a crucial part in building the whisky characteristic.

Compass Box Myths and Legends I (46%, £130/€148.90/$139.99)

Nose: Apples bowl, green apples peels, pears, even more apples, honey, pastries (apples butter pastries), apple blossoms, meadow, floral perfume tinge, apples compote, yeah I think it’s quite clear there’s a dominating fruit here… Continue reading


Balblair 18 Year Old Review

The last Balblair tasted in the official Tweet Tasting that took place earlier tonight is the Balblair 18 Year Old which followed the 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old & 17 Year Old. (Click the links for their reviews).

Just like the 15 Year Old , the Balblair 18 Year Old was matured in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in 1st fill Spanish oak sherry casks.

Balblair 18 Year Old (46%, £118)

Nose: Soft and balanced, baked pears, fruity and chocolaty. Then medium aged soft leather and then lots of toffee! And then cinnamon and nutmeg. Complex and nice, just maybe a bit too relaxed and laid back? Continue reading

Balblair 17 Year Old Review

The third whisky review in the new revamped Balblair distillery lineup (after reviewing the 12 Year Old and the 15 Year Old)  is the 17 Year Old Travel Retail exclusive. I was lucky enough to taste it over 2 weeks ago as the first bottles hit the Duty Free shops in the airports late April after the new line up was announced. But I waited with the review to get a second tasting in the official Twitter tasting we had tonight.

Balblair 17 Year old was too matured in ex-bourbon casks but was finished in first fill Spanish oak butts. I noticed that the 15 and 18 Year Old did not have the butts mention so maybe they were sherry treated hogshead?

Just like with the 12 Year Old and 15 Year Old (and the rest of Balblair whiskies, it wasn’t chill filtered and no color was added.

Balblair 17 Year Old (46%, ~£110/€115)

Nose: Not as enticing as the 15 Year Old, at least not at first where there was less sherry finish impact. Sour fruitiness, polished wood, again some soursweet stone fruit and eventually red berries. Continue reading

Balblair 15 Year Old Review

After checking out Balblair 12 Year Old let’s check the second offering in the new Balblair line up which is the 15 Year old.

Balblair 15 Year Old was also matured in american oak (ex-bourbon casks) but then it was finished in first fill Spanish oak (sherry casks) for an unknown time period.

Balblair 15 Year Old (46%, £73.25)

Nose: Not as creamy as the 12 Year Old as the sherry finish must have mitigate some of it, but it’s still soft with sweet fruit marmalade, dried papaya, sweet sour fruitiness and milk chocolate. Gets better and fruitier with time – very enticing. Continue reading

Balblair 12 Year Old Review

After a decades and consumer confusion, Balblair Distillery replaced their entire core range offerings earlier this year. Instead of vintages bottlings, Balblair now offer straightforward age statement whiskies: 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old, 17 Year Old for the Travel Retail market, 18 Year Old and 25 Year Old.

Earlier tonight we had the official #BalblairWhisky Tweet Tasting (over Twitter) where we tasted 4 balblair whiskies from the new range (with link to reviews): 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old, 17 Year Old (Travel Retail) and 18 Year Old.

Let’s start with the entry level offering: Balblair 12 Year Old. It was matured in American Oak casks (A.K.A. a mix of Bourbon casks), bottled at 46% and as usual with Balblair, without added color and without chill filtering.

Balblair 12 Year Old (46%, £43.95)

Nose: Soft, sweet, malty with brioche and buttery croissant, vanilla, pears, apples. Very creamy!, Then a bit of lemon peels marmalade. After a few minutes it’s becoming less creamy and rounded and gains some sharpness and spiciness with gentle white pepper. Continue reading

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

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Social Media Distilled – Lukasz Dynowiak

I know it’s been a while since my last ‘Social Media Distilled’ interview, but we were all busy – after all, Spring is the Festivals season (Did you follow my Feis Ile 2014 project?), and many new products were launched by distilleries keeping their staff and PR persons very busy. But things has cooled down a bit and I managed to recruit another whisky social media figure for an interview.

Today I’m happy to interview Lukasz Dynowiak. You may know him from the Edinburgh Whisky Blog or the Tweeter Tasting he leads, but today he’s represented here under his professional hat as the director of Alembic Communications which handle social media for Inver House brands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlease tell us a bit about yourself.

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Whisky review – Balblair 20 Year Old 1990 – Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing)

Summertime here in Israel is not the best season for whisky, way too hot to drink unless Air-con is turned on and even then, I feel reluctant to drink or even write whisky reviews – but sometimes we’re lucky and have a cool breeze in the evening which just calls for some summery dram. Last evening was just like this and I used the occasion to write a review of a dram fitting for such evening.

I love Balblair whisky after tasting a few of their bottles, and I was very happy to taste another one at our recent tasting evening – this time an indie bottling 20 yo Balblair from a well known brand – Old Malt Cask from Douglas Laing.

If you follow the Whisky industry news, unless you’ve been lurking under a rock, you probably know that a few months ago the original Douglas Laing company went through big transformation and divided into 2 companies: Douglas Laing, headed by Fred Laing and his daughter Clara, and Hunter Laing, headed by Stewart Laing and his 2 sons Scott and Andrew. They divided the original company brands between them and I’m sure new excellent brands will be created as well.

This dram of course dates from before the change – can we learn from it what the future will bring for the new companies?

Balblair 20 Year Old 1990 – Old Malt Cask (Douglas Laing) (50% ABV, £73)

balblair-20-year-old-1990-old-malt-cask-douglas-laing-whiskyNose: hmm, lovely nose – lots of fruits and sherry notes which throws me at thinking of a summer evening with cool breeze. very malty, sweet freshness, some vanilla and oak hides in there as well.

Palate: Hmm, think and full bodied, although much less of the sherry profile is shown here and it’s more of the malt and fruits (apricots comes to mind). With added drop of water, the fruity notes turns into somewhat tropical flavor of pineapple and mango. Very tasty.

Finish: Medium length, lingering malt and some spicy oak and fluffy notes of fruits.

Conclusion: A very lovely bottling by the chaps of Douglas Laing. It’s a great summer evening dram when the wind blows and there’s a cool breeze chilling the hot air at the end of day. If they will maintain this high standard, I foresee them a bright future and expects a lot of great whisky from both companies (for winter and summer). I’ll use this occasion to wish them godspeed in their new way.


May 2013 Balblair Tweeter Tasting

I had the opportunity (and luck) to join and be part of a Tweeter tasting centered around the Balblair Distillery whiskies. I never had any of the Balblair whiskies before, and even though I already put my eye on a 1990 Islay cask bottle (after all, me being peat head) – I was very happy to be given a chance to taste it before purchasing it. But when the tasting event ended, another Balblair whisky jumped higher into my wishlist… Balblair have some good stuff!

Balblair 1997 – 2nd Release (46% ABV, £53)

Balblair 1997Nose: Creamy, light lovely vanilla aromas hiding beneath a river of fruits – pears and apples comes to mind. sweet honey shows up as well. after a few minutes, some oranges and pineapples notes coming up. very fruity nose. lovely candy!

Palate: apples and pineapples on the front porch, vanilla, sweet honey and lemon custard, then continue with peppery wood notes. ginger and grapefruits

Finish: Very clean, quickly fade tho. makes you want to sip another one!

Conclusion: Fresh and fruity like a fruits salad. This is a fantastic summer evening whisky to sip when the sun sets down into the sea. A dangerous and tempting dram!

Balblair 1990 Islay cask – Exclusive for MoM (50.4% ABV, £125)

Balblair 1990 Islay Cask 1466Nose: Comparing to the 1997 above, much more restrained – less fruity and heavier. The Vanilla and honey notes shows some muscle here. nail varnish, some sherry-like notes of sultanas and red berries, cinnamon, peat that crawls to the front over time

Palate: starts with gentle peat and brine. Oily and chewable. Then the fruits comes up.apples, Chinese fried banana desert.

Finish: very long, lingering spices, warming wood notes. some lemon notes after a while and peat is covering it all gently.

Conclusion: Yummy one! An excellent choice by the folks at Master Of Malt.

Balblair 1975 – 2nd Release (46% ABV, £208)

Balblair 1975 - 2nd ReleaseNose: Starts with strong varnish and wax notes, then malty, zesty spices, old dusty wood. Some sherry notes dropped here and there like lightly dripping rain. Spices and fruity. After a while tobacco too, old leather, cocoa and some background light peat. then after another a minute or two, some bananas notes. it’s crazy stuff!

Palate: Oily. Old leather, spicy oak notes. Tobacco. Sherry notes of raisins, some nutty cocoa, zesty spiced fruits

Finish: Long and HEAVENLY, wood notes lingers forever. Surprisingly not strong notes but gentle waves with spices. relaxed long finish without turning bitter.

Conclusion: Monster dram. the king of the evening. A perfect textbook example of amazing old whisky with top of the notch wood management. sublime! Jumped to a very high place in my wish list. Anyone willing to buy me one? 🙂