Bottle polishing: Three 3’s, part 3/3

Time to polish off the last three 3’s.


Balblair 1990/2013 23yo [2nd release] Ob. 46 % WB88[79] WF81 WW

We can all agree the vintage year is clear, but what is it with these releases? This is a 1990 vintage 2nd release bottled in 2014, though there are subsequent 1990 vintages bottled in 2015 and again in 2017, also second releases – what!? Highlighting the issue, I’ve read that the 1990/2014 & 1990/2017 [WF89] are wildly different to this one [WF81]. With the bottling year printed vertically as small print on the back label of the bottle, it’s crucial information retailers often fail to mention. Balblair could eradicate this long running confusion in a jiffy. I’ll write to them.

Balblair 1990.png

  • N: Thoroughly pleasing. Beneath the initial oaky>boozy hit awaits a curiosity shop of treats. Within the fruity oily layers there’s quite a plethora of unusual smells that aren’t so easily broken down into spirit/cask camps, given 23 years of alchemy.
  • T: Like an oaky hummus blended to smithereens, it’s pretty woody and tart [Serge]. What emerges shortly after is a heavy putty/malty fruitiness [oranges & lemons] with chocolate to fudge and caramac – all lined by oak. Given time and some water, you have a delicious mouthful. It’s not overly complex nor clever, just tasty/gluggable – though this isn’t consistent. Also, the journey is stupidly short, especially neat.
  • F: We see some old paraffin-wax and a murky nondescript selection of home & garden oil & spray products joining the malty/oaky/putty dry mango/citrus action. Short again and very drying on a dry cracked peppery<zesty oaky plane with a touch of dry lime vanilla. Water however lengthens the finale a touch with an oaky-ish putty finish.
  • C: The nose aside, this Balblair doesn’t set my world on fire though there are moments. The solution is to simply return back to snifting and repeat the cycle, and look for the 1990/2017 [2nd release].

Scores 85 points


Tormore 1992/2017 24yo Whisky Broker cask #101165 [btl #70/200] 47.4% WB87[2]

  • N: 2,4,6-trichloroanisole [or TCA for short], is otherwise known as [malty] cardboard. This doesn’t sound like a great start but I think this is decent enough whisky. Not sure any distillery would aim for cardboard as a character note, but for me it’s not automatically a negative by default, and cardboard can evoke nostalgia in me which helps the cause. As a child I would turn cardboard boxes into arcade games, pinball machines, coconut shy’s, shop tills and the like – also with the help of A4 paper, ink pens, coloured pencils and cellotape. Later in life, cardboard has become synonymous with anticipated whisky deliveries. On the other hand, cardboard in whisky can suggest the spirit has become stale, part oxidised or corked. Further reading: Now where was I?Tormore

Furthermore, we’ve bread & butter pudding, butter biscuits/milk biscuits, warm & flaking/peeling thick [white] emulsion and milky-chalk. That’s a fair picture.

  • T: Egg white=takeaway cardboard [curry>pizza container/box], leading to an edgy middle – though water helps relax it. Now we’ve more of those butter biscuits with a little grated white cabbage. Becomes decidedly waxy/milky/malty on the turn.
  • F: Cardboard-y icing sugar with a well tempered vegetal/mineral edginess. Concludes with an aniseed & rocket buckwheat arancini – another one for the cookbook.
  • C: TCA/no TCA, this a decent single cask Tormore. [Old] Deanston-like in someways.

Scores 85 points


[Bushmills] Irish Reserve 26yo [2017] Aldi 40% WB86.21[16] MR7/10 SM7/10 Aldi

After my initial reaction when this was released before Christmas 2017 [Blog87], here’s a full bottle review.

Irish reserve 26yo.JPG

  • N: The nose is a delight each and everytime – and just smell your empty glass the next morning! This talks of a 1970’s refill bourbon dunnage special with a 1980’s stationary synthetic-ness – more evocation of my childhood. Sooner rather than later I’m met by more fruits along with that unmistakable Irish putty/linseed/plasticine characteristic. Along the way I find crystalised sugars, perfumed [scratch n sniff] sweet apple, peach, pear & pineapple drops, vanilla-scented wax [capacitor] candles and a little Tokaji into,.. that’s it – much elderflower wine! A slight fungal undertone seals the deal.
  • T: Arrives just fine, albeit with some polystyrene/bubble wrap and WD40<mousse-y<hairspray – but it’s plainer sailing once the elderflower returns, complimented with a dollop of wood glue. After some jostling, the putty thickens to a creamy bitter-sour spoonful.
  • F: The dense finish permeates deep into the middle of the palate with more fruity perfume and bitter oaky butter putty. We are teetering on the over-oaked edge.
  • C: If’s & but’s/swings & roundabouts but I’m pleased to see the consensus is positive, even amongst the Aldi/Lidl haters. Aldi have sourced another distinctive/very Irish blinder, and not only in context of the rrp.

Scores 86 points






Bottle polishing all sorts

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