When it comes to Blair Athol, I'm a bit of a novice. Prior to picking up this bottle in October last year, my only previous experience was with the 11-year-old from McGibbon's Provenance range, which I thought was decent stuff.
This Flora and Fauna bottling is a quite different beast - a much more robust dram and one that I've taken a bit of a shine to. I wouldn't call this an 'everyday dram' - it's quite a meaty malt, but the fact I've demolished the majority of the bottle in just a couple of months would suggest I found it pretty tasty!
For me, this needs at least 15 minutes in the glass before diving into. I find it makes a big difference. Water didn't do much for me.
The initial smell is of a mix of blackcurrant and strawberry jam, but underneath I get quite a lot of savoury smells - Twiglets or marmite on slightly burnt toast. There's also a drop or two of soy sauce and an aniseed/fennel whiff about it. All good though! There's also a bit of sweetness from a faint caramel sauce and red liquorice laces.
The taste brings to mind orange jelly sweets and orange rind. There's also Refreshers or Love Heart sweets and some sherry spice. That savoury note is still there - walnuts and a lick of wood (without the splinters).
The finish has dark chocolate orange, vanilla, toffee, salted nuts, marzipan and black tea. Bear with me here, but I think I can also taste some faint brown sauce!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable dram which took me a bit of time to wrap my head around - mainly due to the sweet and savoury character. Glad I persevered!