Balblair 10yo (40%, GMP, b. ca late 1980s): nose: immediately woody and nutty, with tins of paint thinner, wood lacquer, polished dashboards, turpentine. Warm resin too, from a pine-wood log fire. Perhaps even lukewarm, flat cola. This is comforting. A cloud of sawdust, mixed with a pinch of ground white pepper. Drying earth after a few days of rain and a teak cabinet on top. Mouth: the wood is very present here too, with a hefty dose of spices (cassia bark, galangal, ginger), old sandalwood and teak. It is surprisingly hot for a 40% dram from so long ago. Finish: behind the restrained spices are vanilla, fudge, caffè corretto, a hint of dark chocolate, maybe mulled or fortified wine? Yes, Port. Roasted walnuts. Pleasant dram. Tough to discover any distillery character in this, however: the sherry wood (presumably) is providing all the action. Good, though! 7/10
Balmenach 1973/1995 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, IE/AEH): nose: cabbage and potato purée. Never before have I smelt this as clearly. So peculiar! It soon calms down to move towards cola, cold coffee, with a few grains of coal dust thrown in (double-black coffee?) Again, it changes: next are cured meat and baking soda -- Yep! odd combination. Log fire makes a late appearance too, alongside toasted barley. Mouth: caramel water. This seems thin at first... Caramelised apple, slightly burnt apricot compote. Finish: strangely, it is both watery and teeming with burnt wood, soaked in water. Overcooked caramel (the point at which it sticks to the pan), warm bakelite (Belgium raprazent, yo!), gunpowder -- yes, it is rather sulphury, if still acceptable. Not very good, this: watery and sulphury, it is not too well-balanced. Not awful, yet also not enjoyable. 5/10
Balvenie 15yo 1989/2004 (47.8%, OB Single Barrel, C#8419): the lightest of the lot. At the same time, it is the highest ABV, hence its position as last. This is an old friend, as the bottle level suggests. Nose: citrus freshness -- waxy lemons, unripe kiwis, melon skins. Bananas show up too, eventually, alongside the modern markers: vanilla and gentle, white-wood sawdust. Unripe blueberries emerge, late in the game. This is definitely a style of whiskies much newer than the other two. Mouth: whilst it is obviously more powerful then the previous two, it remains gentle and mellow, seducing, even. The general feel is custard, coconut, vanilla, with a pinch of grated ginger. Finish: more custard, vanilla and coconut -- did I say, 'modern malt'? Haribo Bananas. This is nice, yet unchallenging, hence the lowish score today. 7/10
If the Man needs a Bal chopped off, it should probably be the 'menach.
|A thought for TC: my notebook is full|