Blair Athol distillery is a picturesque Eastern Highlands distillery which serves as Diageo’s spiritual home for Bell’s blended whisky.
As such the distillery has a very active visitors center and even has a couple expressions available for purchase only at the distillery shop. The distillery is very clear on its wood policy: stock for Bell’s whisky is matured in Bourbon casks whereas the rest of the production is matured and Sherry casks. Fermentation time is really short (52 hours) which creates a rather malty character, still present after almost three decades in a refill Sherry cask.
In Diageo’s Flora and Fauna series Blair Athol’s symbol is the otter. The reason for that is that the Allt Dour burn runs through the distillery grounds and translating the Gaelic into English its name is Otter’s Burn, hence the otter on the label.
Signatory Vintage Blair Athol 27 Year Old 1988, Bottled for The Whisky Exchange from Refill Sherry Butt 6845, Distilled 14.10.1988, Bottled 16.5.2016, Yield 565 Bottles (55.7%)
Appearance: Bronze with thin legs peeling off a pretty persistent necklace.
Nose: Sweet sultanas and and a somewhat metallic Sherry note. There’s a dryness in the nose together with cinnamon and clove and dried apricots. Some sour red fruit comes through together with sweeter berry notes becoming fruitier as it breathes in the glass. A few drops of water make the nose dryer on the one hand and bring out more of the classic Sherry on the other. With water, the nose gets almost bone dry and chalky.
Palate; dry with a concentrated sweetness. Oak with notes of manuka honey. A little bit of water brings out a mixture of cranberry and blueberry together with a higher level of spice, and sharper cinnamon, and more classic sherried dried fruit.
Linger: long with a slightly sour sweet note especially on the tongue. There’s quite a bit of dryness on the inside of the cheeks and a light spicy note along the sides of the tongue running all the way down the gullet. After water is added the linger is spicier yet.
This dram needs time to open up you might want to have some water handy, as three or four drops at a time help it along. This is obviously a great selection of great spirit matured in a really good cask. The £120 price tag is fully in line with current market prices.