Whisky tourism has become a lucrative side-business for some distilleries and the numbers of people visiting has risen tremendously in recent years. Consequently many nice visitor centers were built (also to keep up with the Joneses), all in different styles, from modern minimalism to pseudo-Victorian-historic. In addition to that it is fashionable to offer all kinds of different tours now (some are not cheap), some with the highlight to bottle your own whisky from a cask only available at the distillery. There are good and bad sides to this trend but overall the quality has gone up.
The ‚distillery only-bottlings‘ can be real stunners (I had great Glengoyne, Laddie and Glendronach) but some were only specially selected by name, not by taste. Let’s see how this new Balblair compares.
Balblair OB 1992 bottled 30.4.2012 (Hand Bottling, Distillery only), Cask 2990, 60,9%
Comment: This is a spicy and fruity endeavour. I am getting apples, apricots, pears, white pepper, aromatic smoke, a hint of vanilla and rather big oakiness. On the palate it is too sharp for my taste. I also find a spicy bitterness from the wood and the typical Highland maltiness. This dram needs water, which releases more fruit and gets a creaminess going. However, still a lot of oak though. It finishes at medium-length on vanilla, apple, apricot and licorice. For lovers of oaky and malty drams and Highland austerity, only.