Balbair 1991 3rd Release

Scotch Review #82: Balbair 1991 3rd Release

Distillery: Balblair

Region: Highland

ABV: 46%

Age: NAS but around 27 years old, distilled in 1991 and bottled in 2018.

Price: $12 for a sample.

Color: 1.1, Burnished. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered

Nose: (according to the wife) There’s a big hit of pineapple up front followed by a bit of sherry and a bit of vanilla. After the pineapple though, there is this really strong smell of overripe/starting to fermenting pears. She thought it just smelled of rubbing alcohol at first but after a few sniffs, it turned out to be overripe pear.

Palate: This is a pretty warm dram. There’s a lot of warming spices in here, almost like the mulling spices you’ll find in hot apple cider, and they really dominate the palate. Some really stewed down orchard fruits (can’t tell if it’s apples or pears, probably a mixture of the two) accompany the mulling spices. Toward the back, there a tiny bit of fresh apple/pear as well. This dram really benefited from a bit of water to open it up. Some water breaks up that mulling spice note that’s up front and lets you get a bit of the fruits.

Finish: Medium-to-short in length. There’s some fresh apples/pears that continue on from the palate along with more spices and some really old, wet oak. After a bit of water, there is this very strange herbal note at the end. I think I’m going to have to agree with /u/mindmountain and /u/Implar on saying it reminds me most of bay leaves.

Conclusion: I picked this guy out as a sample in my quest to try and taste as many 1991 distilled drams as possible before both the whiskies and I are on the other side of 30. On the whole, the dram is really interesting but perhaps not the first one I’d reach for. The mulling spices are a bit strong for my taste though after a bit of water it turned out to be pretty pleasant with the stewed fruits. I wish the fruits themselves had a bit more of a presence because I think that would have elevated this dram to a really great level. The bay leaf note at the very, very end is a bit strange and I’m not quite sure how much I liked it. It does have a bit of a cleansing effect on the tongue though, which is nice. Would I buy a bottle? I’m not sure.

Final Score: 81.

Scotch Whisky review #82, Highland Whisky Review #22, Whisky Network Review #106

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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