Balblair distillery has been having a special feeling for me for a long long time. I discovered this distillery with this very same vintage, at a time when they still released whiskies based on vintage and not a count of age. A long time ago, I was running a few video-game servers for a French geek community so that we could easily play together. When I turned 30, regular players from this community gifted me this bottle, from my vintage, and that’s how Balblair arrived on my radar. Ten years later, I’ve turned 40 several months ago, and I wanted to have that same bottle again. After some search in several auctions, I finally bought it on an auction website for quite an expensive price, but it didn’t matter. I had to have it once more, to celebrate my new decade.
Balblair is a small distillery from the Highlands, located in the town of Edderton, and one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, as it is said to have started in 1749, although officially founded in 1790. However, the current site of the distillery is quite more recent as it was rebuilt and moved around 1872 to its current location. Since then, the distillery did not change much, and the buildings from 1872 are still here. Visiting Balblair gives you the feeling of an old and familial distillery, far from the big, modern and soulless distilleries some have become.
In 2019, Balblair was the last distillery releasing its whisky using vintages. They finally decided to rebrand their range, changing their core range from vintages to age statements, the packaging, and unfortunately, the price range too.
Balblair 1979 was taken from 15 American oak casks and released in 2007, so it is 26 or 27 years old. Bottled at 46% abv, it is naturally coloured and non-chill filtered. Unfortunately you cannot find it anymore except on auctions or secondary markets, so expect a huge markup.
The nose is really floral and fruity. Flowers, honey, toffee, and bananas are the most distinctive smells at first, but you can also discern orange and apple juices, pineapple, a bit of vanilla, and toasted bread.
The palate is spicy and fruity. The mouthfeel is oily, with a pleasant spiciness getting stronger over time, with pepper and cinnamon. Tropical fruits with mango and pineapple again, some oak influence with pepper, then some light pleasant bitterness on the back palate.
The finish is long and warm, slightly drying, on grapefruit, pineapple and a light oaky spiciness.
A lovely dram, complex and balanced, if a bit too influenced by the oak.