Things are a-changing at Balblair distillery and we’ve already heard that internal photographs are no longer allowed as part of its evolution. It’s a shame that one of the most enjoyable, informative and laid back distillery tour experiences may have been lost for good. Until we take the tour again, Malt will reserve judgement. Any old excuse for a distillery tour!
Thankfully the bottle your own distillery exclusive remains intact and is often a thoroughly enjoyable option. Recently I reviewed the predecessor to this cask today, the 2006 Balblair cask number 448 that was memorable for a variety of reasons. Its proximity means that rather than discussing all things Balblair I’d like to head off in another direction. No, not to a nearby rival Highland distillery as we’ll cast these aside and think of this specific moment. Right now its a calm and sunny – hence promising – Sunday morning. Across the land, fathers are receiving their offerings thanks to the marketing gods of television, radio and internet. On a side note did you see the American Gods television series? Fantastic given the unimaginable and unfilmable context of the book itself.
Yes, today is fathers day and it’s a pointless concept that the whisky industry latches onto in the vain hope of selling a few bottles. Regardless of the quality of their whisky or whiskey, the ultimate prize is more sales and a wee boost to revenues. This week has seen various brand ambassadors touting their wares and one going too far as to suggest for the next mother’s day purchasing a bottle for her. Now it’s all about the sale as if I was to buy my mum a bottle of whisky it’d be passed onto someone else on the sly. I’m sure a polite acknowledgement would follow exactly like the annual thank you I’d give to my gran at Christmas having unwrapped the most godawful knitted jumper that was also about 3 sizes too big. We’ve all been there and done exactly the same, haven’t we? Come to think of it what happened to those jumpers?
Fathers day brings about a range of emotions in this household. My own father is still out there kicking about but I frankly don’t know or communicate with him. Those ties were severed many years ago and whilst growing up, he was travelling the world due to his career so he was rarely if ever around. And when he was, quite often it was a disaster. There’s a lot of personal stuff under the bridge so we’ll leave it at that after all this is a whisky review. The arrival of this day each year does prompt me to pause and think what it’d be like to actually have a father in your life. Whether this was a good or bad thing? There are so many dysfunctional families out there nowadays that when you do see an efficient example of a happy family you do have to respect the achievement.
You don’t need a day to celebrate a relative, achievement or relationship. Faced with fathers day I’d actually take the bloke out for a drink and bite to eat. As we grow old its a sad fact of life that those ahead of us in the age stakes will often pass away. The fond memories I have of these departed ones isn’t a present I’ve purchased for them on a marketing day. No, it’s the times I’ve actually spent with each one and whilst my gran has moved on, my most vivid and clear memory isn’t of the last few times I spent with her but the odd meal where I took her out and treated her; overlooking those jumpers.
We receive emails from all sorts of brands at Malt and since coming onboard here I am more exposed to such an influx than ever before. Various brands wanting to work with us or utilise this platform in the run-up to fathers day. Instead, we stuck up the Port Charlotte 10 year old review. The few days prior there wasn’t a single piece about the top whiskies or 10 whisky related items for fathers day and we’re proud of that. Even as I type this I still haven’t conceived the World Cup-themed piece either.
It’s the memories that stay with us and whisky is a fantastic conduit for bottling and harbouring such moments. In future years when I open a bottle from say the 2017 Campbeltown Malts Festival, I’ll think of the memories of Andy, Dave and even Mark or those we met. The whisky itself will be enjoyable but it’ll be those candid flashbacks to a glorious few days spent on the Mull of Kintyre that’ll really amplify the whole experience.
Forget the gifts and marketing buzz. Go out there and build those memories for the future. If you so happen to be nearby a distillery then you might be able to capture and seal such a date for future consumption. Whisky comes alive when shared amongst friends and family. That’s something a new generation of investors and flippers will never truly grasp or experience. And whilst this bottle is not my own, I’m sure for Noortje and Dirk it contains more than just mere liquid.
Balblair 2006 Cask 714 – review
Colour: pear drops
On the nose: green apples, icing sugar and limescale. This needs time in the glass. White grapes, porridge oats, green peppercorn and more of that chalky note. A light honey, ground almonds, juicy pears and a wisp of smoke. Enjoyable and dynamic. A little waxy as well. It can take water revealing more citrus characteristics, softer apples, vanilla sponge and cask char.
In the mouth: a little younger on the palate and forceful. Water will be beneficial, but firstly there’s honey, digestive biscuits and talc powder on the finish. Water reveals a little liquorice, almonds, lime juice and Kiwi fruit. No huge big reveal but enjoyable nevertheless.
A solid Balblair with flashes of interest now and again, but ultimately this one didn’t capture my attention like the previous cask. Still, it is a nice souvenir to take home. Whatever the changes at the distillery, it’ll be miles better than the tour option at Glenmorangie who sadly ditched their bottle your own several years ago now. I have fond memories of visiting the men of Tain and bottling their wares as gifts for my wedding, which is too long ago now to recall.
My thanks again to Noortje for the opportunity to try this whisky, the stunning photographs and evoking such memories.