Dram review: Balblair 1990 Islay Cask 1466

This was the final part of the 3 dram Balblair tasting I was invited to. This is single cask Balblair that was transferred to an ex-Islay cask. Interesting stuff. Here are the dramstats:

  • ABV 50.40%
  • Price £124.95
  • Age 23 years

Nose: Very mildly peated dram with the smoke not coming through at first. Instead there is vanilla, pineapple cubes and white pepper. Lemon pith and a touch (and I mean a touch) of smoke. Melon boiled sweets and sea kelp shower gel when water is added.

Palate: Not so fruity initially. Oak, vanilla and pepper dominate. After time there is lemon oil and a herbal note. Melon and much fruitier with the addition of water as some mild peat smoke comes in.

Finish: Woody with white pepper. Drying. Water extends the finish adding more fruit in the form of Kiwi.

Verdict: I like it with water but I prefer the Balblair 1997 that they’ve just released. I’m not sure Balblair needs 20+ years or the addition of peat. As I said before, people have disagreed with my views on the older Balblairs, though everybody I’ve spoken to really loved the 1997 and so did I. This is way to pricey for my wallet.


Dram Review: Balblair Vintage 1975

This was part of the Balblair tweet tasting I missed due to delayed postage. Still I kept up with the tweet tasting and the general consensus was that this 38 year old vintage Balblair was excellent.

Here are the dramstats:


  • Price £207.40
  • ABV 46%
  • Non coloured
  • Non Chill-filtered

Nose: Very fresh at such an old age. Pineapple cubes, pine forrest, apples, pears and jelly beans. It really opens out and turns fruity after 5 minutes in the glass. Incredibly fresh. After 30 minutes some peat smoke comes through with lots of oak.

Palate: Vanilla and kiwi and apple before lots of oak wood influence and spice. With water it is less woody with more kiwi fruits.

Finish: Woody with drying oak, bark and vanilla and a hint of peat smoke. There is also a nice note of peach cordial.

Verdict: It always worries me when my experience is not the same as fellow experienced tasters and bloggers. However, I have my own olfactory system, my own tongue, brain and sensitivities and likes and dislikes, and this is a report of my experience. I found it too woody. I loved the nose, but the amount of wood in the finish meant that i enjoyed the Balblair 1997 more. I’ve noticed “too much wood for me” on a lot of the older drams I’ve had recently. This could mean I’m more “sensitive” to wood notes, a cheaper date (so to speak), or I’m just wrong, but there you go. Many other bloggers raved about it, but I felt that I could buy a lot of whisky that I really love for £200+ and that I would get a lot more out of those experiences than from a bottle of this.

Dram Review: Balblair 1997 (2nd release)

I was lucky enough to get a place on a Balblair twitter tasting with the guys from Edinburgh Whisky blog. These guys were the pioneers of twitter tastings and I was on some of those early events, so I was dead excited to be invited back to sample some Balblair.

However, my samples didn’t arrive until after the event. Still, no matter. I have reviewed each sample and will post them all here. First up we have Balblair 1997. Balblair is now (if it wasn’t already) a famous distillery worldwide thanks to the film the Angels share (a great film btw) in which it is featured. Their single malt is marketed using the vintage approach where a number of casks from a particular year are blended and bottled for a limited edition release. Glenrothes uses the same approach.

Here are the dramstats:


  • Price £53
  • ABV 46%
  • Natural Colour
  • Non chill filtered

Nose: Citrus, green opal fruits, the white sugary filling from a strawberry cable, apple pie with cinnamon and short crust pastry, vanilla pods, refreshers and love hearts.

Palate: Apple pie, crust and all! Sugary with creamy oak and dry vanilla.

Finish: Creamy apple and a fizzy oak burst before the apple pie note returns with some cinnamon, fresh from the oven.

Verdict: This is lovely. A delicate spirit that has been aged perfectly in my opinion. The nose is lovely and the apple pie palate makes this stuff so easy and enjoyable to drink. It’s at the top end of my price range for 15 year old whisky, but in my opinion that is probably about right as this is very well made. 15 is a good age for Balblair!