Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 1

1 12 2015

Alright team, let’s do this.  December 1st has arrived, and that means a daily invasion of whisky on this blog until Christmas.  For those of you who frequent Pop & Pour for wine reviews and insights, (1) thank you!, and (2) I am so, so sorry…it’s about to get a little spirit-y up in here for most of the rest of 2015.  Yes, it’s KWM Whisky Advent Calendar time, my second year in a row partaking in the magnificent scotch-soaked creation of Kensington Wine Market and its resident whisky guru (and now owner!) Andrew Ferguson.  Every night you count one more day closer to Christmas, open a little cardboard door, pull out a new and exciting mini-bottle of distilled glory (all different from last year’s calendar, I might add), and turn to drink – the true essence of the holidays.

Bring on December.

Bring on December.

This year’s calendar starts on a note of intrigue:  a scotch I have never heard of before.  Balblair Distillery, based in the Highlands, was established in 1790 but has successfully escaped my notice for 225 years.  Their signature move appears to be releasing vintage-dated scotches, so instead of seeing a more general age designation on the bottle (10 Year, 12 Year, etc., which number indicates the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle’s multi-vintage blend) you get wine-style labels with single calendar years on them, presumably meaning that all of the whisky in the bottle was distilled in that same year.  Tonight’s lead-off bottle is the Balblair 2003 Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, a 12 year old malt that Balblair’s distiller released concurrently with the 1990 and 1993 – no whisky goes out to market until he says it’s ready.


I would call this highly pleasant (I just finished my glass and I immediately want more) without being highly memorable (I just finished my glass and if I hadn’t written tasting notes I wouldn’t be able to tell you what this tasted like).  It’s an interesting greenish lemon-straw colour, not overly deep, and initially smelled predominantly of spice — and not just cinnamon and baking spice, but cayenne and other savoury spices — before calming down and opening up to more approachable salted caramel, vanilla bean and candy corn peeking through the grainy, mealy, grassy surface.  This same contrast of restraint and generosity continued on the palate, which starts out green celery and spearmint before blooming to melon, orange peel and honey and finishing soft and sweet.  At $88, I could see this being somebody’s house scotch.  Not sure I’ll remember much about it come Day 7 or 8 though.  Onward!



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