An interesting cask selection for this Balblair - 9 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead with a 1 year finish in a 2nd fill coarse grain toasted French oak barrique. Spicy & Dry profile.
Nose: Opening with burnt toffee, this then takes the middle-ground between fresh (orange segments and white grapes) and reduced (berries and plums) fruits. There’s plenty of patisserie aroma here – cinnamon swirls, choux pastry and buttered toast. These are contrasted by delicate florals – dandelions. Reduced, the fruits pop more with a sherbet fizziness, and more overt cask influence comes to the fore – coconut and freshly sawn wood shavings.
Taste: An interesting almost wine-like arrival of tart grapes combined with vanilla cream rolls and pastry buns. In the mid-palate, more fruits – apples and apricots. These are supported by some hefty cinnamon spicing and stiff charred wood. The addition of water soften the fruits into a liquor, adding in toffee sweetness, oranges and grapefruit.
Finish: Medium to long with brown sugars, freshly made vanilla-laced mocha, and both cinnamon and peppery spice.
Whilst I still believe that Balblair is at its purest in straight-forward ex-bourbon wood – the toasted French Oak finish utilised here has created a rather different profile for this Highlander. There’s both robustness and deepness of flavour, as well as plenty of wood and spicing influence – but the overall composition presents us with something altogether more intriguing.