By Richard Thomas
The second run in Balblair’s revamped line of single malt is the 15 year old. The whisky sees a first stage of aging in ex-bourbon barrels, which is then transferred for a finish in first-fill butts of Spanish oak (essentially Sherry casks that weren’t used to age Sherry). Balblair 15 is bottled at 46% ABV.
In the Glencairn glass, this whisky has a coppered look to it. Seeing as how that is somewhat darker than what I expect from even a 15 year old malt, I’m attributing it to the first-fill Spanish oak butts, with the fresher wood putting more color in.
I found the nose smacked of honey and a rounded, fruit cocktail kind of fruitiness, accented by notes of vanilla and toffee. Hints of straw, oak and just a single kernel of black pepper finish things out, for a rather sophisticated and balanced scent.
The flavor was, I felt, much simpler. It was grassy and honeyed in the main, with a touch of that fruit cocktail and a dash of spice. The finish was a light one, leaving a lingering dusting of spicy wood.
Expect to pay between $120 and $135 in the US and £75 in the UK for a bottle of Balblair 15.