Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Blair Athol Distillery

Blair Athol Distillery
Perth Road
Perthshire PH16 5LY

Central Highlands, Scotland - Active

Flavour profile

Blair Athol is a whisky where a simple core is hidden under a veneer of complex flavours. The core consists of something leathery, maybe slightly bitter and hoppy. I suppose where I say "leather" I really mean light peat. The tannic scent that infuses Blair Athol whisky (for me) isn't really strong enough to count as peat, certainly not the full-fledged peat one gets in Islay whiskies. Instead, it's gentle, subtle, a little whiffy, like the inside of a new car, or a leather wallet.

This is further leavened and hidden by a citric tang. In different Blair Athols I've found that this can take several different guises (orange juice and lemon juice, as well as peaches). There are several other sweet fruity notes, among them vanilla and raisins, that also soften the leathery flavours.

All the Blair Athols I've tasted so far are here.

Blair Athol 12 yo Flora & Fauna - good
Blair Athol 12 yo 1993/2006 - very good
Blair Athol 12 yo 1993/2005 - good
Blair Athol 13 yo 1993/2006 - ok

Distillery history

Blair Athol was founded in 1798, as Aldour distillery, by John Stewart and Robert Robertson. The distillery was renamed Blair Athol in 1825 by Robertson. It eventually passed to Alexander Connacher & Co, to Peter Mackenzie & Company, which eventually became part of Arthur Bell & Sons, which in turn became part of Guinness and thence Diageo. The distillery was silent in 1832 (possibly until 1860) and again from 1931 to 1949.

Besides the 12 yo Flora & Fauna expression, there aren't many other official bottlings. Diageo released a 27 yo cask strength malt, distilled in 1975, as part of its Rare Malts series in 2003. The whisky is a major component of Bell's (but of course!).

Potted distillery facts

Water source: Allt Dour, a burn running through the distillery grounds
Eight. Four, stainless steel, two 25,000 litres, two 30,000 litres, and four, larch, 18,000 litres
Wash stills:
Two, normal neck, 13,000 litres
Spirit stills: Two, normal neck, 11,500 litres
Spirit still Lyne arm: Slightly descending
Production per year:
over 1,000,000 litres

- The Scottish Whisky Distilleries, Misako Udo

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