Time to review the older new expressions in the Balblair range. Let’s start with the younger 17 year old which is a Travel Retail edition (duty free edition if you will). Just like the 15 yo it has been matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first fill Spanish oak butts, and is NCF and presented in its natural color.
Balblair 17 yo , 46% , £110
Nose: A nice entry with quite a lot of wood varnish, and polished wood (notes i do love, i must admit), then off some chocolate, ripe orange, and a hint of sultanas (sherry finish, right?) , and a certain waxy note as well. It resembles the 15 (a bit, not quite the same mind you) but adds more oak..
Palate: The palate is lovely : a nice sweetness, with more baked apple, and lots of sultans sweetness, honeyed at times, and very round. There’s toffee and hedonistic chocolate infused with liquor, some bitter oak to balance it all, and orange peel, with some wood spices. very good.
Finish: Dark chocolate, more orange peel, a hint of sultana, and candied orchard fruit.
Bottom line: A very nice whisky indeed, with a lovely nose (although not very sherried), and even better palate. A very good edition, to grab on your way to a vacation, no doubt.
The next one’s a year older, with the same wood regime (ex-bourbon then Spanish oak Butts), and is the 2nd oldest offering besides the 25 yo.
Balblair 18 yo, 46% , £118
Nose: Quite a different profile than the 17 year old with more fruit (pear, toffee’d apples), spices, leather and a leafy note as well, not as sweet as it’s younger sibling, and certainly not as sweet/ sherried.
Palate: Spicy up front, then the orchard fruit kick in, with apricot and nectarine, as well as vanilla, maybe crème brulé, and toffee, sweeter and spicier than the nose suggested, very balanced and very more-ish, with the dried fruit arriving only very late.
Finish: Cinnamon , clove and sultanas (Xmas cake anyone?)
Bottom line: Lovely stuff. A notch up from the 15, harmonious and easy drinking whisky, for a nice autumn / winter day, or with a nice chocolate desert, good balance, and well made, the best of the bunch so for , for me. (looking fwd to trying the 25..)