Distiller: Balblair. Region: Highlands. ABV: 46%. Age: 25 years. Price: $125.
Balblair’s 1990 vintage is a quarter-century of bourbon-matured, sherry-finished goodness in a modest square lozenge of a bottle–inspired by Clach Biorach, a 4,000-year-old Pictish stone in the town of Edderton, where Balblair is based.
The 1990 is aged roughly 23 years in ex-bourbon barrels, then spends its final two years in ex-sherry butts. The result takes the same rich and spicy Highland profile I’ve enjoyed in the ’03 and ’99 vintages a step further.
The 1990 starts with a nose of stewed figs and black cherry. Rich and substantial. The sherry influence is distinct, but on the drier side, with dark toasted tobacco.
Palate: rum-soaked Christmas fruitcake. Nutmeg and allspice. Fresh pencil. (Yep.) The finish is very long, with dark chocolate, red peppercorns, and burnt pie crust.
If you’re a bourbon fan, think of this as the Rhetoric 21 of sherried single malts. If you’re not a bourbon fan, rest assured that’s a very good thing.
A top-notch release from a distillery that deserves more attention. Cheers, friends! – BO
A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.