Whiskyclub.it, by now a solid reality in constant growth in the world of Italian whisky (not surprisingly, knowing who takes care of the ambitious project…), has recently bottled a barrel of Balblair, one of our beloved distilleries in the Northern Highlands. Let’s let the words from the club’s website present the bottling: “Our bottling comes from a very small selection of only 15 barrels that this year’s distillery manager John MacDonald has made available to all distillery enthusiasts. This barrel #1110/1997 is the only one destined for the Italian market. It comes from an ex-Bourbon first fill bottled at cask strength, 57.6%. The original bottlings of the distillery are all characterized by the indication of vintage and are usually bottled at 46%”. Did they convince you?
N: at cask strength, the alcohol is felt; then, with a little patience, you notice a fruity exuberance, dictated by the interaction between distillate and first-fill cask. There is a nice side of green apple (but not only, even warmer, let’s say Stark apples); then ripe banana, and finally tropical (maracuja, coconut). A buttery pear, which makes the pair with other pastry delicacies: paradise cake! They add complexity with a hint of spicy enhances its deep and stratified creaminess.
P: once again, the alcohol translates into a burst of flavor which, however, after such a nose, surprises us with a certain austerity: in fact, the mineral notes increase, a certain ‘dry’ spice from wood and the lemon peel peeps out. Mind you, it is not entirely austere, and in fact the descriptors still refer to toffee and paradise cake. In addition, a round, yellow and tropical fruit (coconut and banana) re-emerges on the finish – the latter perhaps finds the the perfect spot with a few drops of water.
F: coconut, apple, vanilla, very long and persistent.
As always happens with the Balblair, we appreciate the nose very much and while we remain a little disoriented on the palate: this is an excellent expression, which perfectly reveals the two main characteristics of the distillery (fruity exuberance and minerality), but if on the nose these seem perfectly integrated, on the palate, at least to the full degree, the most austere facets seem to prevail surprisingly… We do not know how to decide between incontrollable enthusiasm and simple convinced appreciation, but we certainly recommend to add a few drops of water, which opens and softens a lot. While we are waiting to re-adjust it, for now we stop at 87/100.
Recommended background music: The Rokes – Io vivrò senza te.