Blair Athol – more than a load of Bell’s

Blair Athol Distillery

I have to admit, for all the whisky I’ve drank over the past few years I’ve rarely ventured into the world of Blair Athol. I mean, sure, we’ve all been 16 years old and gotten totally smashed on half a bottle of Bell’s at a mate’s house party only to wake up the next morning and find you’ve redecorated the back garden with the entire contents of your stomach (just me…?), but I’ve actually tasted very few single malt bottlings from this distillery. The 12yo Flora & Fauna and a single cask release from Wemyss Malts are really the only bottlings I’ve ever tasted, and despite them being quite good, that’s where my flirtation with Blair Athol began and ended.

In order to further my education, I recently received a sample of 22yo single cask Blair Athol from independent bottlers, ‘The Single Cask’. Here are my thoughts:

Blair Athol 1991/2013 (22yo)
The Single Cask Co.
Cask #7284 – 86 bottles only
58.4% ABV
£TBC from here

Nose: Surprisingly closed at first, but with time it opens up with apricots, apple crumble, pears, malt biscuits and lemon zest. With a dash of water, which this whisky benefits from given its 58.4% ABV, I get icing sugar, marshmallows, Victoria sponge cake and fresh laundry. Very little trace of this whisky’s 22 years in contact with oak.

Palate: A little hot at cask strength, with a peppery spice, some vanilla essence, lemon meringue and key lime pie. The addition of water softens it markedly and allows grapes, apple skins, vanilla cheesecake, Battenburg cake, marzipan and almonds to come through.

Finish: Creamy vanilla, root ginger and a hint of oak.

Overall: A very interesting whisky, and a different side to Blair Athol which I’ve not seen before. The cask strength nature of this whisky is perhaps a bit overpowering and so it benefits from a splash of water. This allows lots of lovely sweet notes to emerge with just a hint of oak towards the end. It’s a rather different Blair Athol to what I was probably expecting, but that’s the beauty of single cask whisky; each one is different.



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