Balblair

Balblair is one of the most northern distilleries of Scottland. It lies right next to the Dornoch Firth and was established in 1790.

Information about the Distillery
79 Bottles
Scotland, Northern Highlands
-4.181177 57.839926
Active
Inver House Distillers Ltd
1 x 12,000 l
Pear
2 x 8,500 l
Pear
6 x 21,000 l
4 t
1872
1,400,000 l
http://www.balblair.com/
Average Tasting Notes Calculated from 53 Tasting Notes
Nosing
Fruit
Vanilla
Oak
Honey
Sweet
Pear
Spices
Pinapple
Lemon
Apple
Heather
Sherry
Malt
Tropical Fruit
Peat Smoke
Hay
Green Apple
Lime
Floral
Oil
Peach
Alcohol
Chocolate
Raisin
Ginger
Seaweed
Cinnamon
Herbs
Tasting
Spices
Fruit
Sweet
Vanilla
Malt
Oak
Pepper
Honey
Apple
Oil
Peat Smoke
Raisin
Chili
Sherry
Nuts
Banana
Heather
Green Apple
Caramel
Pear
Mint
Pinapple
Lemon
Orange
Barley
Floral
Wheat
Almonds
Clove
Alcohol
Finish
Spices
Malt
Oil
Sweet
Oak
Fruit
Chocolate
Pepper
Peat Smoke
Sherry
Nuts
Heather
Floral
Peach
Alcohol
Details about the Distillery

The Whisky

The Balblair's distillery character is best described as a very fruity and sweet. It is often combined with the freshness and taste of grass or hay.A few of the malts were matured in a way to balance this out with spiciness or oak flavours.

In the earlier years the Balblair distillery didn't do their own distillery bottlings. All the single malt bottlings were done by Gordon & MacPhail. Even today you can still see a lot of Gordon & MacPhail bottlings of Balblair. Today the Balblair has a very modern bottle design. All the bottles don't state the age of the whisky but the vintage they have been distilled.

View from the street on the still house.
View of the Balblair Distillery

The Production

The production of Balblair has significantly increased over the last years and has now reached nearly 1.4 million litres of alcohol per year.

The water comes from the water source Allt Dearg.

The Pot stills of Balblair
The Pot stills of Balblair

The Pot Stills

The Balblair distillery has one wash still with 12,000 litres capacity and two spirit stills with 8,500 litres. The shape of the stills is very flat and they don't have any reflux bowls or constrictions. With a normal distillation rate this would result in a very sharp and vodka like character. The critical stage is the spirit still. Since Balblair has two spirit stills they can reach the normal output with a lower distillation speed. This allows the alcohols to separate better and produce the very smooth and fruity Balblair we like so much.

The Maltings

The Balblair distillery rarely uses any peated malt.

The Warehouses

Inside the warehouse of the Balblair Distillery.There are a lot of warehouses at Balblair. They are all kept in the old dunnage style. This has two impacts on the production. On the one hand you have to have more logistics, since a higher warehouse with pallets is much easier to handle. On the other hand the angels' share depends a lot on the place where the cask is located in the warehouse. Having a flat dunnage warehouses with only three rows of casks above each other means all casks mature very slowly with little evaporation.

History

The Balblair distillery was founded in 1790 by John Ross but there are unofficial records of distilling dating back to 1749. Back then the distilling in the Highlands was illegal, so it was typical to distil off the record. The distillery was in the Ross family for three generations, and the business was passed down from grandfather to father and son.

The business really picked up when the railway was opened near the distillery. This gave the Ross family the chance to sell their whisky to England and the rest of the world. In the years 1894 and 1895 the distillery was refurbished and all the equipment was replaced by the latest technology. Also the distillery was moved closer to the railway to get a better connection to its coal and barley source. This was carried out by the new tenant Alexander Cowan.

In the economically tough years between 1911 and 1948 (WWI and WWII) the distillery was closed down.

In 1948 Robert James Cumming eventually picked up the business and produced whisky again. Later the distillery was sold twice and in 1996 it ended up with the Inver House Distillers.

The Visitor Centre

The distillery is open for visitors all around the year. There are three kinds of distillery tours. The top tour is a personal tour through the distillery and includes a masterclass with the distillery manager.

Chronological rating history

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