Balblair is not making different whiskies, they are still the rich and fruity Highland whiskies, but age statement is introduced to their labelling and a change of packaging.
When Inver House bought the distillery in 1996, Balblair’s whiskies were bottled by their vintages. For example, a Vintage 2004 bottled in 2014 is a whisky distilled in year 2000 and the age of the whisky is the release year minus vintage year, ie. 10YO. The bottling series depends on its taste profile which is determined by the master blender.
Over time as the production increases, many batches of the same vintage were getting too many different releases and it got confusing. This all changed from April 2019 where Balblair released its core range of 12YO, 15YO, 18YO and 25 YO with 17YO specially bottled for travel retail.
With new labelling comes a new packaging. The bottle shape of Balblair remains the unique and elegant oval shape. The Balblair logo is enlarged and printed on the label across the bottle. “Balblair” meaning “battlefield” in Pictish language where a symbolic stone was situated at the stronghold of the Pictish area. This stone inspires the Balblair symbol on the bottle and box.
The Balblair new range are all (except the 17YO) non-chill filtered at 46% ABV and natural colour. The tasting notes are as such:
Matured in American oak ex-bourbon & double-fired American oak casks, bringing elegant complexity and warmth
Colour: Polished gold
Aroma: Elegant bright lemon peel layered with creamy vanilla and crisp green apples
Palate: Ground spices and dried orange slices enveloped in intense set honey sweetness
Finish: Creamy and leathery with notes of sweet vanilla
Matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by the rich influence of first fill Spanish oak butts
Colour: Bright amber
Aroma: Leatherwood honey and spicy gingerbread followed by juicy prunes and fresh lemon peel
Palate: Velvety in texture, bursting with dark chocolate, tropical fruit and spices
Finish: Long and mellow, with notes of creamy vanilla and citrus
Matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first fill Spanish oak butts, adding depth and charisma
Colour: Oiled cedar
Aroma: Rich toffee and baked pears shine bright against an elegant backdrop of new leather
Palate: A masterful balance of juicy apricots, seasoned oak and vanilla custard
Finish: Long and warming with chords of fresh spices and raisins
Matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, and then reshaped over the years in Spanish oak for exceptional complexity
Colour: Hot copper
Aroma: Indulgent overripe apricots and dark liquorice stand out against polished oak and a touch of saddle wax
Palate: Full-bodied with oily citrus, chocolate praline and a faint note of fresh tobacco leaf
Finish: Warming with smooth chocolate and blood oranges
Matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first fill Spanish oak butts for exceptional depth and charisma
Colour: Autumn leaf
Aroma: Mature notes of bitter chocolate and juicy sultanas with a hint of antique polished wood
Palate: Root spices and thick honey complemented by bonfire night toffee apples
Finish: Vibrant with orange zest, candied fruit and just a hint of wood smoke