Balblair has done a number of releases from this vintage, beginning in 2007 and ending in 2012, signaling the end of their (almost?) exclusively ex-bourbon lineup and shifting into a lineup that featured blends of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.
This release was distilled in 1989, filled into refill ex-bourbon casks, then bottled in 2012 without coloring or chill filtration.
I bought this sample as part of a set at The Good Spirits Co in Glasgow in 2013.
Balblair 1989 Third Release
Nose: kind of Balvenie-ish - honied malt, rich vanilla, orange peel, pineapple, beeswax, a little floral. After adding a few drops of water the wax and floral notes expand, the malt becomes drier, and some grape notes come out.
Taste: opens with sweet malt and floral honey undertones, which carry all the way through, some vanilla and vague fruit/berries around the middle, and a light oak overlay near the back. After dilution it retains more or less the same structure but in a softer mode and with some greener notes at the back plus a little pleasant mustiness.
Finish: savory malt and gentle oak tannins, waxy, vanilla, grape
While not particularly complex, this is a good, solid bourbon cask whisky. I appreciate that Balblair was willing to showcase their spirit without the crutch of sherry casks for so long and wish that they were still doing it, because I think it offered something similar to older bourbon cask Balvenie and Clynelish that can be rather difficult to find these days. I would probably buy a bottle if I could find it for under $120, but that seems pretty unlikely at this point. Definitely not at the local price of $500 a bottle.