The key to any good whisky is the water source. Given that the translation of whisky is the water of life, getting the right water source in place with which to imbue it with its life enhancing qualities is imperative. Balblair, the Ross-shire-based distillery that has been in place since 1790 know this only too well. When the distillery moved in 1895 in order to be closer to the nearby railway station, they retained the same water source or the Ault Dearg burn as it is known to make sure that they were able to keep the same purity that marks out their whisky as being the most highly regarded in its field.
The qualities that mark out Balblair as being a premium whisky are the elegance, its complexities of flavours and the smoothness of the finish that comes with being laid in ex-bourbon barrels. The process of maturation is a delicate one with distillery manager John MacDonald overseeing the process and using his years of experience, working his way up through the ranks at the distillery to to gauge when a whisky is finally ready to be released into the world.
This attention to detail has seen Balblair achieve a pedigree that is rarely matched by other whiskies in its category. It has received several awards for its whiskies with the 1989 vintage picking up a gold medal as well as being judged ‘best in class’ at the 2007 International Wine and Spirits Competition.
Given that Balblair whiskies can differ from year to year, the mixture of tasting notes can vary depending on which year you pick. However, the distilling process remains constant. Older years tend to be much more well rounded with notes of toffee and molasses whereas younger years tend to have more citrus flavours at the front of the taste.
As well as being able to be enjoyed on itself, the complexity of flavours in Balblair help it go with a range of foods as well. Because of the citrus notes that are consistent in many years of Balblair, it is best suited to being matched with pork dishes and spicy dishes. But however you take it, be minded to take your time and to appreciate the diversity and the potency of the flavours. As those at the Balblair distillery have been doing for over two hundred years.