Today we’re pitting a IB Blair Athol against a distillery release.
Dramfool Blair Athol 2010 42nd Release
First up a 10yo refill sherry release from one of our preferred independent bottlers Dramfool.
The nose has sweet barley sugars, some milk chocolate, with a faint aroma of raspberry in the background. There's also hints of wet wood, as you walk through a forest, after the rain. We’re also getting some breadyness that reminds us of chinese buns drizzled with sugar syrup. Going back to it there’s also some lemony citrus lingering in there too.
Dark chocolate and pine on the initial palate, its viscous and mouth coating, really quite oily, with a touch of black pepper. A little chinese 5 spice, dark toffee, liquorice, and a little sea salt. The finish is quite long, but turns relatively earthy and vegetal, with turmeric, and dried curry leaves.
Nose (with water)
There's a little mustiness now, but still lots of light vanilla, and freshly baked chocolate chip cookie notes. Going back to the nose the deep, forest aromas are still present. Finally, we’re getting some lychee liquer and stone fruits.
Palate (with water)
A little more alcohol forward, some more tannic and dark fruit flavours like blackcurrant appear. We're not convinced it's better with water, as there's a bit more of a bite which we're not a big fan of. Saying that, water does accentuate the deep oak, and sherry cask flavours. There's also a little violet appearing.
There's a lot going on within this dram, it's one that you could sit with for quite a while. We're quite a fan of the refill sherry as it's giving some nice balance to the spirit, but not overpowering the character of the distillery. We'd avoid adding water here as it removes some of the sweeter notes that we enjoyed and replaces them with some slightly more bitter aspects.
Blair Athol Hand Filled Distillery Exclusive Batch 2020/001
This is an 11yo red wine cask finish that is only available at the distillery.
Notes of rich red fruits, cherries, strawberries, red kola, sweet tea, boiled sweeties, and some custard cream biscuits. There's barely any alcohol burn even when you get your nose deep into the glass. This has some incredible depth for an 11 year old whisky.
There’s an initial tannic hit followed by some vanilla essence, custard buns, and strawberry jam. The alcohol is a bit more prominent, showing a little szechuan pepper numbing heat, and a touch of menthol. There's some woodiness on the finish which lingers on for a good while.
Nose (with water)
Water brings out some tropical fruits and key lime pie. The nose loses some of the deep, rich aromas, but gains swathes of fresh, vibrant citrus. There's also some Haribo rhubarb and custard sweets showing in the background.
Palate (with water)
The palate retains some of the tannic notes, but they're mellowed out, with orange sherbet tingling the tongue. Infact there's much more orange appearing here than before. A little creme de cassis on the back palate, with a little oak, and yeastiness which together remind us of a Kir Royale.
This is a perfect example of a whisky that we could nose for hours. Unfortunately, it falls slightly short on the palate. It smells like it's 25 years old, but does show its real age when tasted. That's not to say it's bad, it's got great flavour, sweetness, and balance, but the prominent alcohol on the palate brings it down a touch. Still, we'd happily have a bottle. Even factoring the that it’s twice the price we’re favouring this.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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