musings

Balblair 2000

Reviewed by: Richard

Balblair 2000

Up until I had the bottle in my hands, I’d not heard a lot about Balblair Distillery, and as you do, did a bit of research in to it…

It’s a Scotch whisky distillery located in Edderton, Ross-shire, Scotland. Originally founded in 1790, the distillery was rebuilt in 1895 by Charles C Doig, and so good was its original water source that the rebuilt distillery chose to ignore a nearby burn in favour of the original Ault Dearg burn. To this day, the Balblair Distillery continues to use this original water source.

Balblair has one of the oldest archives in distilling, with the first ledger entry dated 25 January 1800. John Ross himself penned that first entry, which read: “Sale to David Kirkcaldy at Ardmore, one gallon of whisky at £1.8.0d”. Ahhhhh, the good old days when you could get a gallon of whisky for under 2 quid…

The distillery is owned by Inver House Distillers Limited, whose other distilleries include one of my favourites, the Old Pulteney Distillery as well as Balmenach Distillery.

The Balblair distillery is unusual in the use of vintage dates rather than age statements. This means that Master distiller Stuart Harvey has more flexibility with its offerings and it provides the drinker with a ‘snapshot’ of that moment in time rather than a stationary age statement.
So, enough rambling – on with the review – so, this one I have in my hand is:

Balblair 2000 (2nd Release) 43.0% in an ex-bourbon cask

Colour: rose gold

Nose: Sweet and creamy – almost custardy! Apples & Manuka honey, toasted bread…

Palate: Beautiful malty palate with straight up vanilla & coconut, hints of honey & toffee apple and coconut. Nicely balanced with a lovely mouthfeel. Let it sit for a while, you’ll get tinned pears, vanilla ice cream. This is a great whisky – super drinkable (just ask Mooresey!)

Finish: long! With vanilla and some dry oaky wood

I found it did not need water… (I tried adding some, and while the nose picks up some more floral notes, the body & character drops away, and the whisky becomes way too soft and mellow)

All in all, a delicious whisky… one that I have gone back to many times now! (perhaps too many times by the looks of the bottle!) Rumour has it they have made a similar whisky but used Sherry Barrels instead of Bourbon… perhaps I shall try and track it down, and see how it compares, but that’s a story for another day…

★★★★

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Johnnie Walker Platinum Label 18 Year Old

Posted by: Ted

WW Platinum Label

Let us picture a woman: she wears chic white designer clothes, and her platinum blonde hair is perfectly styled. She is beautiful, with flawless ivory skin and delicate features, and yet her pale grey eyes are cold and her face is blank of emotion. She is like an icy white marble statue come to life. Her house is filled with expensive minimalist designer furnishings, all in white, and the effect is striking and elegant. Yet somehow it leaves you feeling empty; it’s too clean, too clinical, lacking in any warmth that allows you to develop an emotional connection.

If you distilled the idea of the white lady and her house, and bottled it, then you would capture the essence of the Johnnie Walker Platinum Label. The Platinum is marketed as one of the top tier bottlings in the standard Johnnie Walker range. It is delicately assembled from a selection of minimum 18 year old single malt and grain whiskies, and was inspired by the private blends created as gifts for the upper echelons of the Johnnie Walker hierarchy.

Platinum extra Ted

On the nose the Platinum is very light and delicate, with hints of dusty oak floorboards, cereals such as bran, oats and barley, chocolate, and coffee. There is no sweetness or fruitiness here, and as such the scent is rather dry and wooden as a result. The mouth is extremely smooth, with subtle flavours of polished oak and walnuts. A flicker of sweetness is allowed, perfectly balanced by a dash of bitterness. The end is dry and provides a grind of black pepper followed later by a sprinkling of ash.

There is a sense that the Johnnie Walker Platinum Label is a stylish drink created for those with sophisticated tastes, and yet in trying to achieve this they somehow miss the point. Yes, the flavours all work together superbly, but as a whole it’s too refined, polished to the point where there is no spark left to bring it to life. The white lady is beautiful to behold, but be warned, her heart is cold and she will not give you the love and warmth you crave.

★★

#johnniewalkerweek

Find out about the rest of our multi-coloured adventures:

Johnnie Walker Red Label

Johnnie Walker Black Label

Johnnie Walker Double Black

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker Green Label

Johnnie Walker: which is best?

 

Hellyers Road Officially Launch 12 Year Old

The new Hellyers Road 12 Year Old expression may have been available for a short while already, but Head Distiller Mark Littler has something special in mind for its official launch.

Hellyers Road Logo

Held at the distillery on the 28th of October, the night will feature many treats for Tasmanian whisky fans, including a master class session on the 12 Year Old and a four course degustation meal with each serving paired with a different single malt.

The night also features a high profile guest speaker and is appropriately titled: ‘An evening with Jeff Kennett’. The ex-Victorian Premier and former president of Hawthorn Football Club is also chairman of beyondblue and all proceeds from the evening will go to the charity. Kennett is fond of a dram or two and has been a fan of Hellyers Road for a number of years.

The boys at Whisky Waffle have been intentionally avoiding tasting the 12 Year Old until this very night and will post their thoughts on the new expression, as well as the whole event in the coming days. If you have any questions for Mark Littler or for Jeff Kennett, post them in the replies and we will endeavour to get some answers!

For more information about the event, consult the Hellyers Road official site.

My trip to Talisker Distillery

There is a wonderful sense of community associated with whisky. I’ve witnessed it in many forms. A group of revellers at a bar in Scotland. A celebration between good mates. The support offered between establishments in the Tasmanian whisky industry. Talisker distillery.

The Isle of Skye is a breathtaking place full of beautiful scenery and quaint, friendly villages. Sadly, my time there was cut short, including my tour of the distillery Talisker. I was lucky to be afforded a half hour visit to cancel my booking and simply see it with my own eyes. While there, the distillery was able to fulfil my wishes and dreams, despite the shortness of my stay.

At Tallisker

Upon arriving I inhaled the wonderful sea air and hints of peat smoke emanating from the premises, and got a helpful tourist to provide photographic evidence of my presence. Then, upon entering the visitor centre, I told the tale of the unfortunate reasons behind my early departure from Skye and cause of my booking cancellation.

The response was immediate. “Have you got a couple of minutes”, one gentleman asked, and upon my positive reply escorted me into the maturation warehouse usually only seen upon a formal tour of the facility. We discussed their aging of the barrels and the variety of casks used in the process. He was interested in my little state of Tasmania and the whisky being created there. Then a tour group arrived and we quickly scurried back to the tasting area.

“While you’re here, you had better do a tasting”, he proclaimed. I did not protest. “I’ve tried the 10 Year Old,” I confessed “and liked it very much”. “Ok,” he replied “have you had the 18 Year Old?”

Twenty minutes later, and my visiting time elapsed, not only had I discovered my new favourite Talisker expression – but I had done so twice – for after the magnificent 18 Year Old, he produced a ‘Triple Matured’ dram only available to the ‘Friends of the Classic Malts’ several years prior to my visit. And this special Distillers Edition was exceptional. Smoke balanced with sherry, dryness balanced with typical Talisker brown sugar. A wonderful, memorable whisky, given to me at no charge.

Talisker, on this day, really solidified in my mind the community that comes with this great drink. In Scotland, or anywhere around the world where it is created, there is a sense of comradery and good will. In fact, as I write this I sip upon a dram of Talisker 10 Year Old, not belonging to me – my good friend Ross left a bottle here after a pleasant night of catching up and one or two (or more) tastings. He will likely only discover my cheeky nip upon reading this post, though I am confident that will embrace the spirit that I have mentioned here and simply say: “Sláinte”.

How we drink our whisky

Posted by: Ted

A note on our whisky drinking preferences:

We’ve heard all the arguments for adding water, ice or stones etc. to whisky, but in general we drink our whisky neat and lightly warmed (or hot if we forget to take it away from the heater in time!). Warming the whisky volatises it and allows you to really get all those exciting molecules onto your scent receptors, which is far harder to do when the whisky is cold. Remember, smell is half of the flavour! Using a curved glass helps trap the vapours and stops them from escaping into the wild, which is why we like to use vessels such as pinot glasses, or our favourite, the Glencairn glass, rather than the traditional whisky tumbler.

Of course, drinking is a democratic pastime and it is entirely up to you how you do it (although we may make an exception if we hear of anyone mixing a Lagavulin 16 year old with soft drink. We’ll hunt you down and jolly well send you a strongly worded letter!) Take the time to experiment and find the way that gives you the most enjoyment.

Slàinte mhòr!

Our preferred vessel for drinking whisky - and, un-coincidently the icon for this page!

Our preferred vessel for drinking whisky – and, un-coincidently the icon for this page!