Balblair says its craft is not a process, that the quality of its whisky comes above all else. As it’s had a distillery in Eddertin, 30 miles north of Inverness, since 1790, it’s clearly doing something right so I won’t be quibbling with the claims.
A number of whisky drinkers have been quibbling with Balblair’s recent changes. Gone are the vintage releases, replaced with aged statement releases against a trend to produce ageless drinks.
Entry to the Balblair range starts with the 12-year-old whisky, which should highlight the core values of the brand as you move upwards through the range. There’s a 15yo, 18yo and 25yo available, as well as travel releases. Intriguingly, we hear that vintage releases will continue, too…
For now though, it’s the 12yo, presented in Balblair’s signature bottle shape that shows off the crisp, gold-coloured whisky inside. The 12yo has been matured in ex-bourbon and double-fired oak casks, with no added colour – the warmth given off by the bottle comes from the drink itself.
Pour a dram and you’ll be presented with a nose that’s not great initially, with a hint of green leafy veg, but soon gives way to some strong fruit notes, particularly apricot and apple.
The flavour is sweet and fruity, with yet more apple along with some red berries. There’s a hint of wood mixed up with some vanilla in there too, with subtle dark notes and quite a spicy kick.
The taste lingers, with more sweetness coming to the fore and, again, apple is the predominant flavour. However, one colleague talked of sweet, milky tea and it’s been impossible not to taste that ever since.
Despite the sweetness, it doesn’t go too far along the scale and remains firmly in the middle of the road. It’s very much a fruit-forward flavour, with that spice balancing the sugar that’s found in there. The result is an elegant drink that could well see me move my preferences from the Speyside area up to the Highlands.
Bottled at 46% ABV, Balblair 12yo is American oak ex-bourbon & double-fired American oak casks-matured whisky that is non-chill filtered and naturally coloured. It’s available for around £40 for a regular 70cl bottle.