#424 • Balblair 16 years old

46% alc./vol.
Balblair Distillery, Edderton, Highlands, Scotland

We can always count on our friends at Québec Whisky when the time comes to taste something rare. I was offered a mini of a whisky from one of the only Scottish distilleries currently working exclusively with vintages instead of age statements, Balblair. Well here is a sample so rare and old that it is a Balblair that displays just an age, 16 years to be more precise.

This 16 years was one of the most popular bottlings of the distillery before it passed to the vintage edition. Now rare, it is difficult to find on this side of the Atlantic, and again, its price is around 300 $ the bottle.

As the English lawyer and politician Nicholas Bacon (1510-1579) so aptly put it:

You have to eat spicy, but not both at the same time ...

Excessively wide legs on a hue so ambrée that one could call it "True Scotch" on the pallet Sico.

Nose:
Honey and barley, strong cereal, spices and butterscotch. Slight smoke. It does not really shine, but I find it difficult to fault it.

Taste:
Caramel and barley, cherry and vanilla. Fairly sweet, result of the lean 40% alcohol. Small leather that tells us that at least some of the used barrels formerly had to contain sherry.

Finish:
A tiny metallic side that is easy to sweep away to make way for juicy barley, honey, oak, spices and grapes.

Balance:
Another old edition that we will regretfully miss.

Note: ★★★★★

#240 • Balblair 2002

46% alc./vol.
Balblair Distillery, Edderton, Highlands, Scotland

A while ago, at a time almost immemorial, during a misty evening of Scotch Whiskey Club of Quebec, I was offered a glass of a malt from one of the only Scottish distilleries operating exclusively with vintages rather than with age statements, I am talking about a good old Balblair 2002.

From its foundation in 1790 to date, all Balblair bottlenecks are accurately selected only when they are at their peak, no matter how old, so the only data that matters is the year of distillation, regardless of when bottling.

The Balblair 2002 was bottled in 2012, so no need to be too mathematic to guess the age.

As the French mathematician, physicist and philosopher said so well René Descartes (1596-1650) so aptly put it:

If a man's mind goes astray, have him study mathematics because in the demonstrations, if he departs, he will have to start again.

Pale skin. straw, hay, almost white.

Nose:
Fresh and very floral, full of vanilla, oak, toffee, lemon and green apples not quite ripe. I smell a grain, but strangely closer to rice than anything else. A nose that does not lack variety, but rather finesse.

Taste:
Vanilla and white grape juice with hints of rather pronounced oak floods the palate. Slight wave of citrus fruits and bitters with a touch of key lime pie that goes into force to quickly be forgotten.

Finish:
Remaining dusty oak with a slightly metallic aftertaste. Too bitter and fortunately short.

Balance:
Difficult. Nose too discreet, mouth too assertive. Solid construction, but a rather dubious test at the level of refinement.

Note: ★★★★★