Balblair is set to release three new vintages. The 1975 is the second release of this vintage – the only difference is this version was aged in American oak ex-Sherry casks, whereas the first release was aged in Spanish oak ex-Sherry casks.

I was lucky enough to try all three during a recent visit to the distillery in the Highlands, which I wrote about here.

The 1969 was the stunner but, at £1500, it’s not the most affordable whisky on the market. Then again, compare it to some whiskies of this age on the market and that isn’t a ludicrous price tag. While that was my favourite, I was honestly impressed with them all, making Balblair hit the high note once again in my book.

Here are my notes on all three.

Balblair 2002: 46%:

A heady whisky hinting of springtime all through its drammage.

On first sniff, there’s a sugar syrup hit right at the back of the throat. But this mellows to notes of honeysuckle, white flowers (like lilies) and fresh grass.

The mouth was all candy-shop goodness: lollipops, marzipan, icing, sugar syrup dripped over lemon cake and canned peach juice. Wonderfully bountiful in its sweet offerings, this will appeal to lovers of the 2001 vintage, which is also full of almond, fudge and melted sugar flavours.


Balblair 1975: Second release: 46%:

Only seven casks will be released of this vintage, making the £235 price tag slightly more understandable. This whisky is very intriguing, and equally as drinkable.

On the nose, the smell of rubber tires first filtered through. But after the whisky was exposed to the air for a while, I was fully reminded of the smell of fur coats in a vintage shop!

The mouth first burst with sweet herbal notes – thyme & roasted rosemary. Then came roasted lemons, wooden popsicle sticks and how the air tastes after rain has fallen on a dusty road. Lovely!


Balblair 1969:

One of the stand out drams of the year for me so far. This subtle beauty is an absolute stunner. So much, I actually managed to stop talking for a full 15 minutes. Anything that can make me do that has to be pretty powerful.

This whisky filled my nose with rich, creamy mangoes and papayas, sweet white almond bark (a North American chocolate concoction), apricots and a teeny hint of smoke.

On the palate, everything got even more intense. As I sat with this dram, I was transported to a dreamy, warm meadow in mid-summer. My mouth filled with toasted wheat, honey syrup sticks (another North American confection), the rich flavours that filter from a bakery onto a Parisian street (croissants, pain aux apricots) and the twang of orange bitters. It finished, for me, on a note of nori (edible seaweed) and the sweet hint of smoked salmon.

It was glorious. End of.