Balblair certainly know how to confuse both customers and retailers and it’s been an unneccessary bone of contention for years. For example:
There have been other 2000 vintages back in the day. First up was a 2000 vintage 1st release bottled in 2010 [WB], and another 1st release [WB] and a 2nd release [WB] both bottled in 2011 - as well as a number of single cask bottlings. This latest 2000 vintage however, replaces the previous 1999 vintage and its position in the duty-free market. With regards to the ongoing confusion over vintage releases, I got the low-down from one of Balblair’s global ambassadors. As I understand it:
•‘2nd release’ is so called when the master blender [Stuart Harvey], deems the taste profile for a particular vintage batch to have changed significantly from the first release.
•A vintage batch may have been further aged and/or finished from the initial release, though not necessarily with enough of a taste profile difference to deem it worthy of 2nd release status. For instance, the 1983 1st release bottled in 2013 did have a differing profile to the 1983 1st release bottled in 2014, though both are deemed 1st releases and are labelled accordingly.
•Subsequent releases do now carry a bottling year to differentiate them from previous 1st or 2nd releases - hallelujah! From memory I believe only vintages 1989, 1991 and 1999 got as far as a 3rd release.
•The inclusion of a bottling year now clears up confusion from the past, though I still think it would be simpler to additionally label subsequent releases sequentially - 3rd, 4th, 5th release etc., regardless of the perceived taste profile. This logical system has done Aberlour A’bunadh or Laphroaig’s CS batch series no harm whatsoever.
•Finally the bottling date isn’t always specified by retailers, and in previous years the bottling date was printed on the back [or not at all], meaning retail internet pictures don’t necessarily reveal all! So when purchasing Balblair vintages, make sure you ascertain the bottling year as well as the vintage date and the release number. Nuff said!
N: Like a floral-scented shower room in the summertime, fresh/soft and underpinned with sweet honeyed toast.
T: Remembering that this is a 17yo [far older than the original 2000/2011 vintage WB], and with a varied mix of casks, the result is pleasing. It’s a drinker alright.
F: Sweet to fresh, all very relaxed.
C: No grumbles here.
Scores a C+