After completing my reports on the three days of TWE’s Whisky Show (Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3), I turn to the show exclusives. You’d think the highlight of those would be the two Karuizawa releases by ONE, but they’re not. It’s actually this Balblair that came of of nowhere. There were 588 bottles of it, and at least two of my friends who wanted one couldn’t get their hands on it before it sold out.
One of the reasons this expression was so hotly sought after, is that this bottle is completely out of character with the distillery profile. Balblair is one of the oldest distilleries, officially established in 1790, and was mothballed between 1915 and 1947, eventually making its way into Inver House’s portfolio. For two years, 2011 and 2012 some heavily peated whisky was made, and if AnCnoc’s recent sojourn into peated whisky is any indication, we may be looking at a peated Balblair sometime in the early to mid 2020s.
Interestingly, Since 2007 the distillery has abandoned standard age statements (or lack thereof), dropping the NAS ‘Elements’ and the 10, 16 and 33 year olds in favor of specific vintages. Since then, there is a core range (currently the 1983, 1990, 1999 and 2003) with a 1999 and 2004 as travel retail exclusive. The distillery style is heavily based on first and second fill ex bourbon casks, with very limited use of sherry casks either to finish the whisky or mixed, but serious sherry bombs just weren’t in the distillery DNA….until now.
The 2004 Travel retail (Asia only) is fully matured in a sherry butt, and this special 2000 release is a bona fide sherry bomb to be savored.
The PR picture featured below does not do justice to this whisky’s color. It is a deep deep purple (I’ll call it deep mahogany) and is one of the deepest colored whiskies I’ve had.
Balblair 2000 Single Oloroso Cask, 1/588, TWE exclusive
(53% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Deep mahogany, legs are thick and slow.
Nose: Rich and sweet with fruit compote, sultana raisins, demerara sugar, honey cake and blueberry muffin.
Palate: Plums, prunes, red berries, with a sweet attack on the front of the tongue, and gets very savory on the back and sides of it.
Linger: Longish. Tangy and sweet simultaneously with blueberries, prunes, cinnamon and clove.
This atypical Balblair is an absolute stunner, and it ran out as fast as the Karuizawa bottled for the Whisky Show, much to the surprise of TWE staff.
If you’re a sherry bomb fan, get a taste of it (beg if you have to….)
To John MacDonald I have but one request – more of these stunners, please!!! 🙂
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