Balblair 1991 / Balblair 2000 / Balblair 2005

Last week I watched an online Balblair masterclass with Mark Williamson (Maturation and Spirit Quality Manager) and Lukasz Dynowiak (Brand Ambassador) presenting the Balblair 2005 and two new expressions that have just been launched: Balblair 2000 2nd release and Balblair 1991 3rd release.

As always with Balblair, the distillery is focusing on well made natural whisky. No exotic cask types or weird finishing, not much marketing babble either. And not a single NAS expression. Quite refreshing.


Balblair 1991 / Balblair 2000


One of the questions during this very informative presentation was about the release numbers. Take the Balblair 2000 for instance – this was first released in 2011, with a Balblair 2000 2nd release in 2014. It’s strange that the new version (bottled January 2018) still says Balblair 2000 2nd release on the label.

They say they’ve worked further on the original parcel of ex-bourbon casks which have been given an extra five years sherry finish. Same ‘pocket’ of casks, hence still 2nd release. I personally find this confusing, especially since the additional sherry finish will definitely alter the character so you’re stuck with two different whiskies carrying the same release number. Something to keep in mind when you have a bottle in your hands.


Balblair 2005 is currently their youngest expression (they always tend to have something around 10-12 years). It is matured in ex-bourbon American oak barrels. I already tried this one last year: Balblair 2005.



Balblair 2005Balblair 2005
(46%, OB 2017, 1st release)

Nose: young, on fruit eau-de vie. Pears, peaches, lemon candy, vanilla ice cream. A hint of yeasty bread. A slight milky / yoghurt side as well. Floral touches. Light, still fairly close to new-make.

Mouth: sweet and spicy. Hints of banana, apple compote and coconut cream. Vanilla cake, sweet almonds and some leathery notes. Plain barley as well. Light ginger.

Finish: fresh but short, with pear and light grassy oak.

Not really my style, traditional ageing needs more time? Still young, missing a bit of depth. Other than that a faultless, honest dram. Around € 45-50 from TWE for instance.

Score: 79/100



So… Balblair 2000 was originally matured in American oak for 13 years, then transferred to first-fill European oak sherry butts for another four to five years.


Balblair 2000 2nd releaseBalblair 2000
(46%, OB 2017, 2nd release)

Nose: still fresh, more rounded, with more baked apples (apple crumble) now as well as spicy notes. Candied ginger. Nice hints of beeswax too, a bit to my surprise. Nice fruit cake and oranges. Hints of straw. The sherry is fairly subtle here, but it does add character.

Mouth: still sweet, more full-bodied, with more chocolate now, oranges and baking spices. Baked apples and a soft minty edge. Light pepper and cinnamon.

Finish: longer, with richer spices, Seville oranges and hints of raisins.

Much better: just more mature with more depth and complexity. Around € 75, this one is just in at Master of Malt.

Score: 84/100



The second new release is the successor of the 1990 vintage: Balblair 1991. Matured in American oak and then 2-3 years in first-fill European oak sherry butts.


Balblair 1991 3rd releaseBalblair 1991
(46%, OB 2018, 3rd release)

Nose: elegant and delicate. Spiced honey and stewed fruits. Tinned peaches and mango. Hints of beeswax again. Subtle leather. Great fruitiness, both dried apricots and fresh, tart citrus. It shows that this is a near-30 year-old because of the nicely fragrant American oak elements.

Mouth: a malty core with juicy fruits again (stewed pears, peaches, orange liqueur) with marmalade, honey and creamy vanilla. A little milk chocolate and cinnamon pastry. Hay. Candied ginger and whiffs of chilli.

Finish: long, half sweet, half spicy with lingering milk chocolate and a hint of coconut.

This one is simply very good: time does work. Immediately attractive but even better when you give it time to unfold. A really fair price for a 26 year-old OB as well (considering the current market), so recommended. Just in at Master of Malt.

Score: 88/100