Tasting: Balblair 2003 – 2013 1st release

Balblair 2003 - 2013 1st releaseDram data:
Distillery: Balblair
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 2003
Bottled: 2013
Age: ca. 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: ex-bourbon
Alcohol: 46%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
white wine
The nose is just as one would imagine a 10-year-old Highland malt from ex-bourbon casks to be. Notes of citrus, sweet vanilla pudding, malt extract on the first nosing. Not too shy thanks to the 46% bottling strength, but not too overpowering either. What else is in there? Fresh sweet apricots, loads of them, red apples, apple skin, fresh ginger, lemon rind, orange juice, citric fruits kernels (a very light organic bitter note), cucumber and remnants of a freshly mown field. A summery type of dram. No oak whatsoever but also no more immature young spirit notes.  The palate is wonderfully sweet right from the start (but not overly so) – vanilla pudding, candy floss, concentrated apple juice, honey. A good initial hit of alcohol too. That’s a lot of 2nd fill ex-bourbon casks (and maybe some 1st fill in the mix) with quite some juice left hard at work here. On top of that there are notes of red apples, baked apples, apple skin, orange juice with bits and rind, malt, apricots sweet grapes. All in all a sweet palate laden with summer fruits, if a bit simple. The short to medium long finish is quite light, initially sweet (fruits, vanilla pudding and candy floss just like on the palate) fading to a dryer note with remnants of yeast at the end

A plain and honest young ex-bourbon matured Highland malt with a nice balance between distillery character and cask influence. Quite sweet and fruity with noticeable but not overwhelming alcohol and no signs of roughness. Clearly not the most complex nor the oldest of drams – no wonder at about 10 years of age – but nonetheless an intriguing and quaffable summer malt. I like the fact it’s bottled at 46%, un-chillfiltered and with natural colour and the unique packaging, which opens sideways and is held together by magnets, adds a nice touch as well. It’s also one of those malts which improve considerably once opened and left to further oxidise for a few weeks or months. As you can see from the picture, I’m already down 1/3 on my bottle and it’s now at its fullest potential.

Score: 83/100
(Nose: 83 Palate: 83 Finish: 81)

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