Blair Athol 1988 The Whisky Agency & Heads & Tails Canada

Blair Athor Whisky Agency.jpg

The other evening I was fortunate enough to sit down with Igor from Heads & Tails with /u/devoz and /u/muaddib99. They probably posted theirs right away, and I have a backlog.

When people look over my list of reviews, they are sometimes surprised not by what I’ve had, but rather what I haven’t. For instance, I’ve never had a Glenburgie. My knowledge of BTEC is woefully small. And I’ve never had anything from Blair Athol.

Which is a shame.

Not that I haven’t tried, there’s just so much. I don’t have to defend myself, just say I’ve never had it.

As such, my first is Blair Athol 1988 The Whisky Agency & Heads & Tails Canada, which some may compare to my first major Macallan being Macallan Cask Strength in the idea of “it’s all downhill from here”. That said, I don’t just follow the likes of my fellow reviewers, and we appreciate each other for that, so for all we know I’ll love all Blair Athol I have and we’ll all live in happy places.

This whisky was selected jointly by the Whisky Agency and Heads & Tails Canada, specifically for the Canadian market. Thus the moose. And I have to say, I don’t normally love the images on the bottles, but this one is the tits (that’s a good thing). The Moose is the proper size, the scenery looks like Central Ontario, and it’s all just cool.

Just don’t run into it with your car (the moose, not the bottle… actually don’t drive over that either).

This is a ex-bourbon cask, 28 year old dram from the 80s. If that doesn’t interest you, then you’re dead inside. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: $399.99 CAD at Kensington Wine Market

Region: Highlands

Age: 28 years old

Vintage: 1988

Bottled: 2016

Maturred in a: Hogshead

Number of Bottles: 196

Abv: 49.6%

Colour: 5Y 9/6

Nose: Nectarine, plum, brandy, doughnut dough, berry medley, raisin bread fresh out of the oven

Initial blast of fruit. Lots of interesting notes. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was an ex-sherry cask. Quite an impressive amount of fruit, sweet dough, and even lots of different berries going on.

Actually I forgot this was ex-bourbon until I double checked my images to make sure. The spice is evident, however a lack of red fruits gives me a heads up. Finally the darker raisin fruit notes didn’t come out until later.

This one needed a little bit of water to open up.

Taste: Hot cross buns, cherry, banana bread, molasses, fruit cake, ginger ham, sand

Again, really interesting cask reaction. I have little experience with this malt (see: None) so I can’t say what’s the juice and what’s the cask, but it’s really interesting.

Gets drier as time and water are added. There’s big flavours here. Any lost red fruits are in the taste, though more blended to make more complex flavours.

Finish: White pepper/cinnamon hearts, cloves, cherry skin, peach juice, buttered rolls, Xmas spices

Solid, if hot finish. Water is needed to bring to open this one up. Lots of butter, more yeast from the start, and a final medly of Xmas spices.

If I had to nit pick, the finish, while a decent length and tasty (that’s what she said), was too hot and a little blurred (also what she said). It works, but I want a little more to it.

Conclusion: Overall a well put together, killer dram. It comes at you sideways and never lets up. I loved the fruit forward notes. I feel they become a little lighter on the finish, which I wish didn’t happen. There’s a good mix of complex and simple notes here. All of it balances out.

I wish the finish had more distinctive notes like the rest, but that’s a small ask. Overall a good dram to sit back with, and you won’t be let down by it.

Also cool moose label. What’s not to love?

86/100

Scotch review #586, Highland review #103, Whisky Network review #979

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