Always a bit off the beaten track, Balblair was one of few distilleries sticking to vintage bottlings until just recently. Distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2015, the aroma of this Highlander is a true delight. Blood oranges, papaya and delicate spices intermingle with cereals, lemongrass and hints of cocoa. A complex and well-balanced flavor profile marks the palate: fruity-sweet and spicy at first, the taste develops more floral, aromatic and mildly acidic. Chocolaty-bitter, warming and almost sparkling, the prolonged finish waves farewell. A great Single Malt to savor!
Big fun. Pretty lively and zingy for its age - my guess is that a sizable portion of liquid matured in either ex-European oak or virgin oak has gone into this batch. As fas as affordable older Highlanders go, I'd prefer this to the - roughly similarly priced - AnCnoc 22 and 24.
Plum cake, polish, marzipan, exotically-flavored fruit gums, wine-soaked barrel staves. Quite a bit of acidity - probably due to the ex-bourbon components that went into the vatting, but there's also a sense of slightly sour wood influence (in a good way, though). Very fruity, with (to my mind:) quince, mirabelle, apricot, and cherry. The fruit vies for dominance with the wood, without a clear winner in sight.
Does not need water. Super smooth and silky arrival, gets then slowly and steadily more peppery and intense. If you'd have to visualize the development on the palate, you'd surely draw an upward tending graph: it starts slowly and then just builds and builds and builds. Basically, you get multivitamin fruit juice in the beginning, then a dash of wood spice, leading up to a ginger-and-chili finale. At the death, there's some late chocolate and espresso. Impressive.
Longer than medium, but not very well-defined. Some lingering cocoa and indistinct red fruits, while the zingy spiciness slowly ebbs away. Water makes it fruitier and (duh:) softer without offering any real improvement.
Very clean aldehydic sherry, oaky, slight cognac character. Toffee, fudgey creaminess. Barely fruity if at all.
Oak complexity, but barely bitter, with great creaminess. With water and time it gets even more creamy. Slightly sweet wit no fruity components for me. Yes, it seems to me very close to the 2017 version, and probably the whole 1990 line goes mainly on that cognac character, which makes a great transition to them.
Mix of fresh fruit and stewed fruit on the nose as well as honey. Great fullness, perceptible age, soft, melted, sherry, caramel, well integrated alcohol. Great length in the mouth. It's good work. Enthusiasm 4/5
Meanwhile, there are 4 versions of Balblair 1990 "2nd Edition": Bottled 2013: https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/77574/balblair-1990 2014: https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/75639/balblair-1990 2015: this one 2016: https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/86207/balblair-1990 And all are called 2nd Edition ... Strange marketing of Balblair! 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Edition would be more logical? Or???
There seem to be more sherry than bourbon casks per cent. Fantastic nose, great long finish, just a tad too spicy in the first mouthfeel. Thus only 88 instead of 90 points from me.
The sweet sherry aromas of prunes and raisins dominate. Although very sweet, it comes across very harmoniously and rounded. Alcohol and malt are very well integrated. A slightly sour note flashes from time to time, but is immediately displaced by the sweetness again. Later comes some caramel and chocolate. A fantastic nose for those who like sweet sherry casks.
Oops. As round and balanced as the nose was, the first sip surprises you with a slightly peppery, crisp note! This stays that way with a few drops of water. Behind it follow the beautiful chocolate notes "Zartbitter".
Relatively long and pleasant. Becomes neither bitter nor dry, but remains an interplay of chocolaty and sweet sherry notes.