Nine years in bourbon followed by a 1st-fill French oak hogshead finish for the remaining months. Infuriatingly, it’s the hogshead that takes all the credit. Why?
N: Barley cereal meets raw varnished oak, full-frontal. Notes of freshly cut sharp red apples, hose hip [SMWS], a splash of emulsion over glycerol-ed apricots, onion-y=swede-like soft heat, [ginger] biscuits and caramel that decidedly turns to hard toffees. Adding water tends to promote the oak that hints a little towards [varnished] chestnut, but it’s the fresh onion-y, yeasty barley<oak that sticks. A tough and not particularly sweet nose, especially in comparison to the moderately savoury-sweet and certainly spirity-creamy official 2003, coming up.
T: Forget it neat. [With water], the cask yet again leads - varnished and again with hints of chestnut. Very clean, active-woody bourbon-malt with an onion-cinnamon-cumin heat. Oaked marzipan on the turn, creaming up slightly with some sour-cream white chocolate. [No apricot cheese this time].
F: Marzipan to vanilla and plentifully bourbon cask-led to a fresh bourbon-y finish. Medium-bodied all the way through. Sour, full-ish fat cream conclusion.
C: The cask character works nicely with Balblair’s spirit but boy does the oak dominate. An interesting malt for bourbon drinkers perhaps, for those who like it hard and sour. I had already sampled this in the summer . My conclusions were similar, though I was way too generous with the mark . After much contemplation:
Scores a D+