Blair Athol is one of those Diageo workhorses that focuses mainly on blends – it’s a major component of Bell’s. As a result, other than the odd special release and the Flora & Fauna 12 year-old, we never get to see an official bottling so we have to turn to independents like this one. There’s no information about the maturation other than it’s a single cask, but the amazingly pale colour would suggest minimal wood influence.
Nose: Bready and yeasty, with some citrus in the background. Water brings the citrus further forward – we’re now in an orchard not unlike young Balblairs. Quite fresh and spirit-driven.
Palate: Neat, it’s tangy and bitter, but still drinkable at full strength. I get grapefruit above all – it’s quite eau-de-vie-ish and young. Water has the same transformative effect as on the nose – beautiful unripe citrus notes, melon, some spices, and the same doughy (sourdough) note as the nose.
Finish: Quite long, on grapefruit and unripe peaches.
Comments: I wasn’t expecting much when I bought this, but it was a great offer on Amazon (we’d have to travel back in time to come across an 11 year-old single cask for under £40) and at the very least I thought it would be a good chance to try the character of the Blair Athol spirit. It exceeded all expectations: it’s a charming raw-ish whisky (clearly from refill bourbon) with a fresh, citrus-forward profile to rival my favourite young Balblairs. It won’t appeal to people who like more cask influence, but unless you’re after plenty of vanilla and wood spice, it will reward you.