The 1978 vintage is one of the few from Balblair that has only received a single release. It was eventually replaced in 2012 by a second release from the 1975 vintage. This at least suggests that Balblair really is going through their warehouses to find the casks that they think work best rather than simply marching forward through whatever they happen to have on hand.
This whisky was distilled in 1978, filled into second-fill ex-bourbon casks, then bottled in 2009 in an outturn of 3000 bottles at 46% without coloring or chill filtration
Thanks to Michael Kravitz for this sample.
Balblair 1978 First Release
Nose: fairly typical Balblair, but more refined and a little tired until it sits in the glass for a good while - clean honied malt, orange peel, strongly herbal, vanilla, light oak, a little tropical fruit and berry/grape/sherry. After adding a few drops of water it becomes softer and more malty with a slightly savory edge, but the structure remains largely the same.
Taste: fairly light - honied sweet malt up front, becoming herbal with vanilla and grape-y fruit around the middle, plus an undercurrent of gentle oak throughout that grows stronger around the back. After dilution it gets sweeter up front and feels more green/herbal around the middle, but stays largely the same.
Finish: very long - polished oak, clean malt, savory, herbal vanilla, orange peel
This feels like a logical extension of the 1989, but with more complexity in the aromas and finish. While it is also composed from refill ex-bourbon casks, the impact is dialed up just enough to keep it from feeling too spirit-y. I was a little disappointed by the flavors in comparison, but the way it was bracketed by the aromas and finish makes up for a lot of that. Overall it's very solid spirit aged in not overly-aggressive casks, which is the kind of thing that is getting increasingly difficult to find without spending an arm and a leg.
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