[September, 2018] I had a very nice sherried 1995 Blair Athol last year (WB id 78054) that offered incredible delicious chocolatey notes so we finished the whole bottle in one night. And now I am curious if this sister cask shows a comparable quaffable profile after two more years of maturation…
...and indeed it does! This time the chocolatey flavours are more subtle and not that powerful as with the 20-years old that makes up a different profile but even quaffable (call it better balanced or less spiked) dram. It is a very delicious modern sherry style with no flaws except a minor match-boxy (sulphurous) note which is not annoying. People that are not sensitive to sulphur might (most probably) not recognise this at all...
The colour is mahogany and the nose of the neat dram is very shy first (57.7% abv) and needs quite some minutes to open up. After that it offers a fine modern style sherry profile that is not very bold but incredible balanced on all the delicious sherry aromas and appropriate wooden notes. Water does a great deal to open up the nose and releases much more aromas, actually it is essential on this dram. But now I detect the minor sulphurous aromas in the nose, too.
The taste is layered on the different sherry-induced flavours (chocolate-fresh fruits-dried fruits-nuts-leather) and wooden notes (spices, tannins) that all are in great harmony and balance, I really like that! There is a minor match-boxy sulphurous note too but I guess most drinkers will not detect this at all - and it is not annoying (you know, I am very sensitive to sulphur, usually). The malt-driven flavours are the last to pop up (sugars, flowers, honeys) but they are present at least (what is great, so the Blair Athol is still detectable). After some reduction the dram gets smoother and even more quaffable - I like to drink it both neat and reduced to about 50% abv. A further dilution turns it out of balance as the chocolatey flavours now dominate both taste and finish (but if you like chocolate, try it!).
The dram arrives warming and coating in the mouth with just a minor peppery feeling despite the high proof, a very fine mouthfeel, indeed. No distracting bitter or astringent moments at all. The finish is long and gets even more chocolatey until it vanishes, finally. Again no distracting feelings at all, this one was bottled at exactly the right age.