Balblair was originally built near Edderton in 1790 but was moved in 1895 to it’s current site in order to make the most of a new railway link between Wick and Inverness. The distillery was founded by the Ross family who ran it for 100 years before it was eventually sold on.
As with many of Scotland’s distilleries, the 20th century brought troubled times for Balblair and 1911 saw it close down until WWII. The distillery buildings were commandeered by the army in 1939 and used as a base throughout the course of the conflict but things fell silent once again at the dawn of peace. That is, until 1949 when the UK government intervened.
Whisky making was no easy task in post-war Britain and much debate raged over whether the production of alcohol was a reasonable use of rationed cereals, however the government decided that whisky exports were too valuable… ‘the country needs food, dollars mean food, and whisky means dollars.’ The industry sprang back to life and mothballed distilleries like Balblair fired up their stills once more. The government set annual export targets with a particular focus placed on the post-war, American market.
As for Balblair, it would eventually come under the ownership of Inver House in 1996 and while single malt bottlings were once rare, a rebranding in 2007 saw bold new packaging and a focus on vintage as opposed to age. The whisky I’m going to review was distilled in 1999 and bottled at 46% abv, without the use of chill filtering or caramel colouring…
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 18 / 20. The nose is Floral with Heather and Honey, some Vanilla and Lemon Citrus, Clotted Cream Fudge and Shortbread.
Taste: 18 / 20. Honey, Salted Caramel & Toffee. Butter, Cereal and Vanilla with Pepper, Lemon and a touch of Lime.
Value for Money: 7.5 / 10. On the market for around £60, which I can’t help feel is a little pricey but not over the top for a 15 year old at 46% ABV.
Overall: 43.5 / 50. A satisfying drop that should have wide appeal right across the board.