June 18, 2013

Review: Balblair 1975 - Part Two of Our 1975 Birthday Vintage Bonanza

There's Something About Booze as Old as You

As wifey and hubby's shared birthday month rolls on and Manhattan's thermostats begin to climb, we take shelter in the comfort of our trusty window unit, a good book (Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon which fittingly enough sports a 1970's fusion-jazz soundtrack), and another disco-dram from hubby's birth year, 1975.

We bumped into a miniature bottle of Balblair 1975 courtesy of our friends at RoyalMileWhiskies.com.  Miniatures are brilliant because while the full-size bottle of this beast comes in at around £187.50 ($300 US), the 5cl (~2 Oz) miniatures were only around £10 or fifteen bucks.  Let's face it, if we walked into a bar and they had a 1975 single malt on the menu for fifteen bucks, we'd be all over it in a heartbeat.  Of course we bought two.

Speaking of fusion, here is the best jazz fusion record of all time - In A Silent Way by Miles Davis (1969), featuring the most mighty of electric jazz lineups: John McLaughlin on electric guitar, both Chick Corea AND Herbie Hancock on Fender Rhodes, Wayne Shorter on sax, Dave Holland on bass, and Tony Williams on drums.  It's a nice soundtrack to this review if you are in possession of headphones..  

There's something very comforting about booze that's the same age as you.  It probably grew up watching Diff'rent Strokes and Knight Rider with a pouch of Big League Chew.  Ok well it's Scottish so maybe not.  Maybe it just sat in a barrel in a warehouse in the Highlands waiting for a home.  Either way, we walked our path together through Duran Duran and Def Leppard, through acid washed jeans and break dancing, through the nineties and the 00's, mellowing out over time, greying at the temples, and waiting to finally meet on this auspicious day.  Here's to you Balblair, where have you been all my life?!

Oh That's Where You've Been

Balblair is one of the oldest distilleries in the Scottish Highlands dating back to the mid 1700's.  It's located in Ross-shire just north of Glenmorangie.  Balblair is all about VINTAGE.  Their claim to fame is their distillery manager John MacDonald, who only releases each cask at its perfect age.  Rather than the typical age statement (a standard 14-Year or 16-Year bottle), Balblair is released by the year of distillation.  They range from a 1965 vintage up to 2002.  By choosing the exact age at which to release each batch, Mr. MacDonald can achieve the perfect balance or as they call it the 'optimum maturation'.  These little bottles are the Second Release of the 1975 vintage, aged in American ex-sherry oak casks.

Tasting Notes

Nose:  No rush here.  We've been spiritually connected for almost four decades, so what's another ten minutes for this birthday beast to open up?  The time was a good idea.  The nose is lemon pound cake, the wonderful syrupy kind that comes in a plastic wrapper.  There's some fresh citrus too: Meyer lemons and freshly sliced pineapple.  Finally some botanicals - juniper, lilacs, and a hint of spicy ginger.

Body:  This is really just a wonderful smooth body.  Very well balanced with honey, lemons, and that same flower garden freshness.  It's just dangerously smooth with no alcohol burn and the most pleasing sensation on the palate of fresh cut citrus dancing around on the tongue.

Finish:  Extremely subtle finish.  This is no beast, but rather a very elegant lady.  There's a distinct finish of refined aroma and taste, like walking through an old fashioned pharmacy full of fancy and expensive soaps and perfumes with labels beyond any hope of pronunciation.  The spirit wakes up on the finish as well with a ghostly warmth spreading up into your nose and cheeks.

Shaping Up

This is shaping up to be the best birthday month ever.  We found a soul-mate, a contemporary, a seventy-five vintage gem.  We're for sure saving that second little miniature morsel to drink on birthday night, unless someone out there in web-land wants to send us a full bottle! :).  Ok three hundred bucks for a bottle of scotch is still a little out of our range, but when we think of people spending that kind of bread for hooch this is exactly the type of stuff we'd picture them toasting.  It's got us very excited to get our hands on some of the other vintages.  Obviously the '65 would be quite a treat, however we're also keen to review the later vintages.  If the '75 is any indication, this line could find a permanent place on our shelf when we're in the mood to step aside from our standard beasts for some fine dramming with a classy broad like Balblair.

Read the next installment of Disco Drams, 1970's vintage scotch, with Berry Bro's 1974 Glen Grant



  1. WANT!! Shipping from the UK is expensive though. Who wants to go in??? :)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.