Door 5 of the 2019 Boutique-y Whisky Advent Calendar reveals Blair Athol 21 year old Batch 5. Not sure what happened to batches 3 and 4 – but they’re equally as mysterious as batch 5 - which I’m told was from March 2019, but I can find absolutely zero trace of it anywhere. Rather the shame as it’s pretty glorious and I’d happily buy a bottle for a fair price! A suggestion to Atom Brands: whilst having one of two drams of something unobtanium in an Advent calendar might make people feel a bit special (assuming the liquid is also special), presenting swathes of bottles with no traceable information, nor any ability to purchase just seems a bit daft.
Anyhow, Batch 5 is presented at an ABV of 51.5% and adorned with a label which resonates with Blair Athol for (at least) two reasons. The topiary recalls the distillery’s frontage which is heavily overgrown (though beautifully maintained) with thick ivy, whilst the bell shapes themselves present us with a strong visual clue as to the world-famous blend in which Blair Athol is a defining component.
Nose: Vibrantly fruity with apple, apricot and melon sitting with mango and guava – part bright an juicy, part steeped into fruit tea. Well-sheened wood runs throughout, joined by caramel shortbread, buttery brioche and vanilla cream buns. In the background a thought-provoking leafiness – slightly mossing, slightly spearmint. Reduction adds lemon barley water and white chocolate bon bons alongside a gentle scattering of ginger.
Taste: Fruit bombs away! Pineapple juice, mango slices, balled melon and an array of citrus peels open, followed swiftly by lemon curd, candied peels and jelly sweets. Polished oak forms the mid-palate alongside gentle ginger spicing and sponge cake before a return to juicy fruitiness with orange and tangerine alongside lemon oils. Water adds a souring dimension, reducing the brightness and poise whilst emphasising pepper. Arguably better at its delivered 51.5% ABV.
Finish: Medium with zesty citrus, wonderfully balanced sweet and sour fruit elements (both fresh and jellied) and a mild pepperiness.
Excellent fruit-packed Blair Athol – vivacious, defined and expressive. A little hydrophobic on the palate, but the bottling strength is perfect as-is, so dilution is not required anyhow. Really very enjoyable – but, does it actually exist outside of dram sized servings?