Balblair 18 Years

”It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”

Whisky Review # 938

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Balblair
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Casks with Finish in 1st Fill Spanish Oak Sherried Butts
Chill Filtration: No
Price Average: US$ 140 (December 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Too expensive for what it offers.
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. It's an acceptable Malt but quite Mainstream. 

Colour: Dark Amber (Natural Color)


This is actually quite similar to the 15 Years I tasted earlier this year in May. The light Varnish note is there again suggesting that some Fresh or Refreshed Wood was used during maturation. The Nose is okay but quite uneventful with some Cereals, Caramel, Dried Fruit and Spices. A clear Buttery note can be found as well as some Sherry accents although the Sherry cask influence is certainly not overwhelming. The Alcohol is not completely integrated.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Malted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Caramel, Dried Fruit such as Raisins, Sultanas, Plums and Prunes, Apricot-filled Puff Pastry, Grass & Hay, Citrus Peel, Cocoa Powder, Charred Oak, Fresh Cut Wood, Nutmeg and Cloves.
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Red Berries, Sweet Apple, Nectarine, Peach, Nougat, Dusty Track, Herbs like Parsley and Mint, Caffe Latte, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Tobacco, Varnish, Licorice and Leather.


The delivery is slightly Thin despite the adequate ABV. The mouthfeel is Creamy & Medium-Dry. It's mainly Sweet but a few Bitter and Sour notes provide the needed balance. It's not bad but quite mainstream and slightly boring.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Apricots, Plums & Prunes, Citrus Fruit (Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon), Charred Oak, Herbs like Parsley and Mint, Charred Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cardamom and Tobacco.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

German Butter Biscuits, Honey, Nougat, Red Berries, Sour Cherries, Nectarine, Red Apple, Dusty Track, Fresh Wood, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Cocoa and Leather.


Middle-Long and Medium-Dry. It's mainly Sweet but a few Bitter and Sour notes are to be found as well. The three extra years in the cask have created a slightly more rounded feeling. I find Malted & Toasted Barley, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, German Butter Biscuits, Charred Oak, Fresh Wood, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Prunes, Apricots and Plums, Nougat, Red Berries, Sour Cherries, Red Apple, Citrus (Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit), Nectarine, Cocoa Powder, Dusty Track, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Menthol and hints of Espresso, Peanut Butter and Leather.

Drinking Advice:

I prefer it neat but you can carefully add a few drops of Water. Don't overdo it as Wood and Wood Spice will take control.

Rating: 85.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good


Balblair is located in Edderton (Tain) and is one of the oldest Scottish distilleries. It was founded in 1790. Since 2006 it is owned by International Beverage Holdings. In 2007 the entire range was relaunched on the basis of Vintages instead of Age Statements. Glenrothes did this as well. But this changed again in 2019 and a new Age-Statement core range was launched with the 12, 15, 18 and 25 Years. The Spirit is also used in Blends like Hankey Bannister and Inver House. The visitor centre was only opened in 2012. We visited this great looking distillery in May 2017 and did a very nice tour. Extra attention is paid to the fact the distillery was part of the set for the movie "The Angels Share" released in 2012. The distillery produces around 1.5 million litres of Spirit per year.

The Balblair 18 Years is not a bad Single Malt and it's a slight improvement over the 15 Years. It's certainly accessible and it will please many a Palate. For me personally it's too mainstream though and I can't get excited about it. I simply miss the "Wow" factor and at this price level I need that. It was exactly at this moment that I heard Whitney Houston on my stereo and her song sums it up quite nicely. "It's Not Right But It's Okay"


Jan van den Ende                                                                     December 1, 2021

All Pictures taken during our visit in May 2017

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