Last night Bablair held a very special twitter tasting, in which 3 very different single cask Balblairs (cask samples, nothing commercial – yet) were on the table. This tasting was kind of special since it was done partly on site ( a few lucky bloggers on a trip to the Inverhouse distilleries) and the rest of us from the comfort of our home on twitter. Everyone was twitting and it was lots of fun.
Besides it being a fun event it was also highly educational, showing how three different cask type affect the same distilled new make so differently. Cask #1350 was a 2nd fill ex-bourbon casks, cask #0191 was an ex-bourbon cask as well but one that had been used to mature peated whisky before, while the cask #1345 (the colour tells it all!) was a first fill Oloroso Sherry cask (and apparently its a sister cask to the #1343 cask bottled for the Whisky show by TWE, and sold out very fast). It’s always a treat to try a sherry cask from Balblair as they are not in the habit of using much sherry in the maturation, and certainly not 100% sherry anyways… We started with #1350 then continued to #0191 finishing with a sweet desert whisky that is the #1345.
Nose: Light , ex bourbon classic stuff. Banana, coconut and lots of marzipan and roasted almonds. with some time and air, we’re getting more exotic with bits of pineapple, and hints of lemon and citrus fruit. a few drops of water makes it more vanilla like. Text Book example of great ex-bourbon casks. Returning to it after trying the other casks revealed a lot of bubble-gum too.
Palate: Sweet, woody, lots of vanilla, and coconut notes a real coconut bar this one. a very active cask indeed with a lot of wood effects.Marzipan and allspice too, with a pinch of pepper, and with time some exotic fruit too.
Finish: marzipan, vanilla ice, spice, pepper and a lot of oak.
This is a brilliant example of a good ex-bourbon cask, that imparts A LOT of flavours to the whisky. If you’re a fan of the exotic fruit and coconut / marzipan profile, then you’re in for a treat!
If you remember, an ex-peated cask Balblair is something that’s been done before twice (see my reviews of cask #1463 and cask # 1466 which was bottled exclusively for MOM), and both editions were brilliant (90’s according to my ratings). So i had high expectations of this one too, in spite of the fact its much younger (10 years or so). So, how is it?
Nose: Mostly grape peel, Unripe banana, dry and not as sweet as the previous. also getting quite a bit of new make-ish sort of notes : pears, apple and This is dry, and earthy peat aroma.
Palate: Oh, much smokier and earthier than the nose. the peat was here all the time. waiting for us, wasn’t it? in addition we get ginger, and dry grass, also some matiness, but it’s not creamy and vanilla like as the previous. It’s waxy indeed , fruity and smoky at times. cant ask for more can you?
Finish: Lovely Smokey feel to it, with a dirty earthy touch.
I am a fan of the ex-peated casks, but this one feels younger, and that’s a shame, since it could have been even better. I guess we should give it a few more years in the cask.
Nose: Big bald and deep. Prunes, and Blackcurrants, thick, and sweet.Reminds me of a whisky cake I ate recently at Maltstock. Sweet and deeply hedonistic. Orange marmalade, spice, some Jamon (ham) .
Palate: Oh this is sweet and syrupy stuff – the good way. pepper, and a wee hint of sulphur, and yummy yummy deep dried fruit. fig, date, Blackcurrant, chocolate all in syrup. OH MY. i am in deep love. this is awesome stuff. so mouth watering and delicious.
Finish: Long sweet, and fresh. with a lot of the fruit going on here, spices (clove) and cinnamon powder.
This is a cracking sherried Balblair. You don’t get to taste much of that stuff, and that’s a pity. It’s an ultimate desert whisky. Hedonistically sweet, as this Oloroso Butt was very powerful indeed. A party for the senses, and those dried fruits and red fruit combined make up a super delicious dram. This HAS to be released. I used to be a much bigger sherry head, but this is just amazing.
This was a very enjoyable tasting, showing how good Balblairs can be (especially straight from the cask!), and how diverse the whisky can be when aged in different types of casks. If Bablair is to bottle any of those, I’d say go with the sherry, as it’s so good and unique. The first cask is also brilliant, while the peated cask will surely get better in a few year’s in cask, then it would be ready.
Thanks to Lukasz D. for organizing this brilliant event, and tasting.