Balblair distillery has made a big change in its range of single malt whiskies by replacing their iconic vintages with age statements, as well as changing the design language of their labels and range. Many Balblair fans have grown accustomed to the vintage system, but as it seems indicating vintage on the bottle rather than age, is not as popular as one would think… It’s not something that has not been done before (the very same was done earlier this year by Glenrothes, who too were using a vintage system and moved its core range to age statement).
Some would argue that this is a bold move, as die hard Balblair fans may not like the change. And indeed, I’ve heard quite a few complaints from ‘Balblair Fans’ on social media. Of course, making the shift may not be easy, but it sure makes the Master Blender’s life a whole lot easier, and removes clutter and uncertainty from the core range. I set out to try the entire new range without prejudice (as well as the 17 year old Travel Retail) all of which will be reviewed on the blog. The 12 year was the first new expressions we tried at the Balblair Whisky twitter tasting. (As it turns out I was also to give a Balblair masterclass a day after at Whisky Live Tel Aviv, in which I presented the 12,15,18 year to the Israeli public for the first time – a big honor).
The 12 year old expression was matured in ex-Bourbon casks and double-fired American oak casks, bottled at a nice 46% abv (for it’s base core whisky), and NCF – nice.
Balblair 12 year old, 46%, £45
Nose: Creamy vanilla and gentle wood influence, over a nice lemon meringue, and green apple peel, which is complemented by touches of nutmeg and icing sugar.
Palate: red apples, wood spices, and a nice woody bitterness, along with waxy notes , some oranges and honey, barley and some bitter wood, as well as hints of marzipan.
Finish: honey, sweet vanilla, wood shavings, cocoa. A bit dusty.
Conclusion: The 12 year old might be considered a ‘replacement’ for the 2005 as they are quite the same age. However, it is not quite the same, and its clear the guys at the distillery were not looking to replace a vintage but to create a new 12 year old expression which is the gateway to the distillery (as it is the youngest). This is a very nice summer / spring sipper, with the nice citrus/ wood interplay. Will Balblair fans like this? Probably so. At any rate , very nice intro to the distillery style. More on the 15 ,17 and 18 year olds in the coming posts. stay tuned!
Available at Master of Malt for £44