Review: Balblair 8 – Kintra

It’s the 25th of January, which means tonight across the world people celebrate Burns Night. The perfect night for some haggis, neeps and tatties during Burns Supper, paired with some beautiful whiskies of course. I’m starting the night with this 8-year-old Balblair bottled by Kintra. An independent bottler from The Netherlands. If you happen to be from The Netherlands and/or are familiar with the Dutch language, I can wholeheartedly recommend the blog from Confessions of a Whisky Freak. He wrote an amazing article on Burns Night with some delicious recipes to inspire your very own Burns Supper.

This year Burns Night coincides with Whisky Wednesday, and I wanted to pay some extra attention to Robert Burns.  For that reason, I wanted to choose a whisky fitting of Rabbie himself. Now, I could have chosen to go for a Lowland whisky as that’s where he’s from. But he once stated that the whisky of the Lowlands was a most rascally liqueur. Which he didn’t mean in a good way. Instead, he favoured Highland malts. I chose this Balblair because it’s one of the few Highland distilleries that was already in operation during Robert Burns lifetime. Let’s find out if this whisky has got what it takes to inspire some poetry in myself.

Tasting Notes: Balblair 8 (2012) – Kintra
Stats:

ABV: 57,3% (114,6 proof)

Age: 8 years old

Distillery: Balblair

Owned by: Inver House Distillers

Category: Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

Today I took the dogs for a long walk in the forests near Zeist. As the temperature dropped just below zero, Max and Faye played unfrazzled in the remains of last weekends snow. Their thick winter coats keeping them warm and comfortable. After the walk I started preparing our Burns Supper (although I didn’t manage to get some Haggis). While the food is slow cooking in the oven I put my laptop on my lap. I poured the remaining Balblair from Kintra in my perfect dram glass. And I am ready and set for my Whisky Wednesday review.

Nose:

A stream of dried fruits starts flowing as soon as you pour the liquid into your glass. Torrents of dates, dried figs, and plums become apparent as soon as you bring the glass to your nose and a trickle of honey coats it into a coherent sensation. Thoughts about the fruit pudding I had for Christmas pop into my mind, but I’m also finding a more Mediterranean influences as I’m picking up on sugar coated dried figs that we’re sold in bags as a treat in southern Spain. Aside from that brook of fruity flavours, I’m also getting a black tea note on the nose of this dram. Giving some much needed balance to all it’s sweeter aspects. Water focusses the dram on its sweeter side, giving met notes of a thick freshly made glaze.

Palate:

On the palate this dram is no wee beastie. It packs a punch with claws of tannins and thick molasses. Some liquorice root and bay leaf find their way onto the palate as well and to a lesser extent the dried plums and figs remain too. The tannin notes start to remind me of winegums in a way, giving a nice, candied aspect to this palate. The mouthfeel is as thick as the notes of molasses and the fact that there’s not a single delicate aspect to find on this palate, makes this dram quite the beast. For a flavour explosion that’s all good of course, but if you’re looking for some complexity there’s better drams out there. This one doesn’t really give you a peak behind the monster’s rough guise. Water doesn’t quite tame the monster either, but it does transform it in a way. I’m suddenly getting some spice that I didn’t notice before, the kind you also find a hot red pepper.

Finish:

The finish has a medium length, with a nice intermingling of wood and fruit. Some of the liquorice root finds its way into the finish of this Balblair by Kintra, but the fruits find themselves transformed from figs and plums into blackberries. It makes me reminisce going into the woods as a child and filling up my pockets until they overflowed with the clustered fruit. The frustration of my mother at the stains in my new pants was all worth it for the homemade blackberry marmalade we made from my pickings afterwards. I’m also picking up some cloves and cinnamon, which compared with this finish’s fruitier side brings mulled wine to mind. Water magnifies the finish, making all the flavours more intense but pushing it more towards the bitter notes of wood. The red pepper I got on the palate after adding some water finds its way into the finish as well.

Verdict:

This 8-year-old Balblair from Kintra signalled the start of Burns Night for me, but I wouldn’t say it’s a dram that does right by the man’s legacy. The National Bard of Scotland was one of the greatest poets that ever lived, and good poetry knows nuance. That is not something I find in this dram all that much. That having been said though, it is delicious! It’s bold and full of flavours and if you like sweeter notes in your whisky I think you will be pleased with this one. It’s a beautiful dessert, Christmas pudding in a glass. Perhaps not a masterpiece, but thoroughly enjoyable, nonetheless. At roughly 60 euro’s it won’t break the bank either, but there is better value out there.

Rating:

85/100

Value:

C

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes. And how I determine rating and value.

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