FOLLOWING my rum-soaked adventure with the El Dorado 12, I decided it was time to leave the coast of Guyana behind and sail back through stormy waters to Scotland to another excellent single malt - the Balblair 89.
The Balblair Distillery was established in 1790, making it one of Scotland's oldest distilleries. It is based at Edderton, on the shores of the Dornoch Firth - which is almost due north from Inverness. It also featured in the Ken Loach film, Angel's Share which, if you haven't already, is well worth a watch.
There are various expressions available from Balblair - also known as "vintages", but the 89 is - so far - the only one I've spent time with. However, given its excellent showing, I will definitely be exploring the distillery's other drams in the future.
On the nose, the 89 initially gives off a huge waft of lemon and grapefruit and there's a smack of light wood and vanilla from the ex-bourbon barrels used to create this delicious dram. Keep digging down and there are definite hints of white wine, bananas, pears, green apples and honey.
The taste is simply sublime, with soft golden fruit, pears, honey and vanilla filling the mouth.
The finish keeps up the excellent quality, with the vanilla and honey returning, before a slightly bitter citrus tang takes over. This then gives way to soft fruit and a slight salty note, before slowly fading.
The Balblair 89 is a delicate dram but the more time you spend with it, the better it gets. It's not cheap, but you'll be buying a classy and complex whisky which is a real treat for the tastebuds. Cracking stuff.