Today we look at two single casks from Balblair distillery, brought to us by Dram Mor. We've not tried a lot of Dram Mor bottlings in the past, so we're excited to see what the quality is like.
Dram Mor Balblair 8yo 54.8% Cask #359004
This release was matured in a refill bourbon for 8 years and 7 months, before being transferred to a 1st fill PX sherry cask for 4 months. 235 bottles were released.
We're getting freshly made yeasty pizza dough, rich cherries and blackberries in liqueur, a mushroom-driven earthiness with a tinge of sherry vinegar and a sort of spearmint-like fresh sweetness. There's are rich malt and oak notes coming through along with a slight beefiness. There's a tingle of alcohol on the nose but it's not too overpowering. Going back to it we're getting more earthiness, beetroot and mustard along with sharp acidic apple.
Granny smith apples, raisins, light cinnamon, pink peppercorns and tangy rhubarb. We're getting a lot of alcohol on the initial palate, it's quite ethanol-forward, but there's still lots of flavour there. There's a nice sweetness coming through from the oak, along with a rich berry compote with some toasted rice crispies on top. The finish has a decent length and you get a nice mixture of jaminess and wood as it goes on.
Nose (with water)
We're now finding dark chocolate, prunes, a little reduced balsamic vinegar and toasted oak. It's still retaining a lot of the earthy, mushroom aromas with the addition of damp forest floor and leaves. Going back we're getting red apples, pear drops and a touch of simple syrup.
Palate (with water)
Wow, where did all of this sugar come from?! We're getting tinned pineapple, mango, guava and passionfruit with an undertone of fiery ginger. None of this was here before the water. There's milk chocolate, treacle syrup, light coffee and raisins. The finish still has a good length but there's much more going on now with the water.
This is a complex dram, but for us it doesn't necessarily gel together. The nose and palate are a little too earthy and acidic for us, but some may really enjoy this in a dram. The alcohol is reasonably well balanced, you don't notice it too much but there is some spice behind it all. Water really enhances the palate for us and brings out lots of tropical fruits, but we're not sure it's enough.
Dram Mor Balblair 10yo 52.0% Cask #800135
This release spent 9 years and 6 months in a refill bourbon hogshead before being finished in a 1st fill oloroso sherry hogshead for 6 months. Just 87 bottles were released.
Treacle toffee, rich plums in syrup with some zingy lime zest. There's candied ginger, star anise and a light toffee. Going back to it we're getting milk chocolate, walnuts and some old leather books. It has a deep, rich and inviting nose that's overwhelmingly dominated by sherry.
Blackcurrant jam, creamy milk chocolate, a tinge of black pepper spice backed up with warming alcohol that works nicely with the full-bodied flavours. Cherries, sultanas, ginger biscuits, caramel and vanilla straight from the pod. The finish has a very good length filled with dark fruit and brown sugar sweetness.
Nose (with water)
We're getting the same luscious sherry notes as before, but with a touch more of the leather. We're finding some sweetened BBQ sauce and lemon iced-tea appearing. Going back we're getting oranges, zest and juice, that gives nice citrus to balance the syrupy sweetness of the sherry.
Palate (with water)
Water has tamed some of the upfront raisin and sultana richness and given way to more leather and wet oak. There's a nice balance of ginger spice and caramel syrup, but we're feeling the alcohol a little more now. The finish has still got a very good length but is showing more of a light honey sweetness rather than the darker fruit flavours before.
A very good example of a modern sherry bomb with good alcohol integration and a good finish. It's rich, decadent and balanced, but maybe the sherry is too much? It's up to personal preference, but we feel the spirit was slightly lost amongst everything. Saying this, it's still delicious, impressive for the age and we'd happily go back for another dram - maybe just tomorrow as it's quite heavy for back-to-back drams. You'd have thought it spent much longer in sherry.. the cask must have been incredibly active to impart this sort of flavour over just 6 months.
- 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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