Tasting: Balblair 30 yo 1985 – 2015 by Gordon & MacPhail

Balblair 30 yo 1985 - 2015 by Gordon & MacPhailDram data:
Distillery: Balblair
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Distilled: 14.01.1985
Bottled: 27.01.2015
Age: 30 years
Limitation: –
Casks: refill ex-bourbon barrels 245+246
Alcohol: 43%
chillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

I know, I know – I’m really slow with reviewing whisky lately, so many bad nose days… So let’s make today count!

Tasting notes:
 dark gold
The nose starts out very promising! My favourite style of dram, the marriage of fruits and oak only long periods of maturation in excellent casks can achieve! Where to start… We’ve got dark red apples, sweet pears, thickened sweet grape juice, an abundance of lychees in glucose syrup, sultanas, dried mangos and papaya, a hint of pickled ginger with a wee drop of orange juice, dark milk chocolate, a box of milk toffee with vanilla flavouring and a light cigar, all stored in an old oak cupboard polished with fresh beeswax. The 43% ABV make it ever so slightly watery, but it remains an absolutely stunning nose, defying all “age doesn’t matter” claims. This would be the whisky to convert the NAStivists (I totally just made that word up…). Let’s see if it holds up on the palate! Ah yes… it rolls along the tongue in a rich wave, gentle and gracefully. Mouth-coating with a combination of fruity sweetness and quite a bit more oak than on the nose. Hubba bubba (the oak-aged variety), very red apples, juicy pears, mango, papaya, lychees, grapes, a hint of sultanas and pickled ginger. Add to that a bar of dark milk chocolate, toffee, a few dry herbs (herbs de Provence if you need to know) and oak essence drizzled on top on the brink of being too much, but not yet. Even better and richer on the second sip, mmmmmhhhh…. The long finish is also well-rounded and throat-coating, with the same aged goodness of fruits and oak essence. Nothing vulgar about it, just pure class in a glass (oh, come on, Klaus!).

Mmmmmhhhh…. what a dram! One of the best I’ve tried in many moons. I’ve been saying it for many years: Take a great quality refill barrel and great quality distillate and give it many years of time. This complex, layered, elegant and gentle dram with fruits and not too shy an oak influence is the result of that simple yet effective recipe. Two words: Pure elegance. Well worthy of what I think is my highest score yet (I’m too lazy to check).

Score: 94/100
(Nose: 95 Palate: 93 Finish: 94)

Thanks to my malt mate Jo for sending me half of her sample she got by G&M for a tweet tasting!

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