Balblairs in battle!

chris-white-in-a-kiltIt doesn’t happen often, but when you unearth an intriguing little something totally unexpectedly it can make your entire week. Or in this case, my entire month. Whilst scratching around the back of my sofa/under my bed/in my man drawer looking for a few pennies to rub together I came across a miniature I didn’t even know I had. After consulting a certain Mr. Google, I appeared to be in possession of a 10 year old Balblair, distilled around 1965 and bottled around 1975. This find was far too epic to keep to myself so I selflessly asked Chris and Jason if they’d like to taste it with me and compare it to the current 10 year old, the 2000 vintage. Lucas reviewed this last July and you can see what he thought here. Having had another word with Mr. Google (and Mr. Lucas) I found that back in the late 1980′s Allied Distillers, who owned Balblair at the time, installed new condensers. Distillations prior to that would have been condensed in worm tubs. Furthermore, batches of malt in the 1960s were peated to a reasonably high level. All in all, we were expecting very different things from these two drams.

Chris, Jason and I met in The Whiski Rooms on The Mound and settled into their lovely tasting area. We sat around the tasting table in a cosy den at the rear of the shop, cut off from the constant white noise from the city in giddy anticipation. Chris has previously reviewed this bar when it first opened and this is what he thought. As I got to grips with Twitter (check out our Twitter for a blow by blow account of this tasting) the drams were poured and we got down to business…

Let this battle begin!




balblair-1965-751Balblair (distilled ca. 1965, bottled ca. 1975)

Highland Single Malt

100 Proof (57.1% ABV)

Can’t find it anywhere – if you can, let us know!

Nose: Tons of toffee, plums and chocolate. Searching a little deeper we got pralines, syrupy figs, a little boot polish and raisins.

Palate:Rich and sweet with a slight oakiness. Some smoke and leather give it a really full mouthfeel. Something lighter comes in little waves – candyfloss and pineapple perhaps.

Finish: Long, rich and evolving. So much going on here it’s hard to believe it’s only ten years old. Remarkable.


Having composed ourselves we moved on to the current ten year old, the 2000 vintage. We’d each had it before and knew we were about to taste something vastly different, yet equally as good.

balblair-2000Balblair 2000

Highland Single Malt

43% ABV

£32.95 from here

Nose: Vanilla, pears, pineapple and surprisingly fresh and fizzy. Coconut and honey. Slightly malty and delightfully complex.

Palate:Green apples, citrusy with a little prickle of faint spice. Bursts of vanilla and parma violets. Just doesn’t taste like a ten year old, it has matured very well.

Finish: Surprisingly long, sweet caramel with hints of dark chocolate.

People:I know it’s a bit risky, but we’re resurrecting this part of the tasting – personifying the whisky. For these two I’d have to go with Muhammad Ali and Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather. They are/were both giants of their respective eras, sheer class (in the ring-Hoban) , but completely different. In all honesty, the juice from the 1960/70s packed such a punch even a tiger was tamed…

The Tiger


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