Blair Athol 1988/2014 La Maison du Whisky

Highland Robustness

Of the Diageo Flora and Fauna range, the Blair Athol 12 is by far my favourite. Not only because it comes with some strong memories, but also as it is such a perfect blend of Highland robustness and refined spiciness. The perfect Christmas dram I believe I have called it before.
Then why did it take me three of the same F&F bottles or four years before I even ventured into the independent territory to try some new expressions? Well to be safe let’s presume I had to make sure I had the perfect follow-up bottle in my hand or glass, as not to spoil the firm reputation that the distillery already had in my mind
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Blair AtholDescription: distilled in 1988, matured for 25 years in a 2nd fill Sherry Butt #6857, bottled in 2014 by independent bottler La Maison du Whisky for their Artist #4 - 2nd Batch - series at 57.4% ABV.

Nose: an old rustic bouquet of leather, blood oranges, dried apricot, Turkish coffee and ripe cherries. Some notes of milk chocolate down the line, the ensemble is softly honeyed giving it a strangely familiar taste?

Mouth: surprisingly medium bodied and the alcohol level is on par with the flavour. A palate of cherry juice, chili peppers and coffee soaked sugar lumps. Although quite refined for the strong sherry wood influence it developed some heavy bitter oak tannins over time.

Finish: bitter and mouth drying, with that unique Blair Athol afterglow, mainly oak tannins, chocolate and a dash of sherry.

The Verdict: I got what I looked for and much more. There is no mistaking the shared ancestry with the F&F bottling, which makes me a happy man for two reasons: firstly it is a confirmation that I am clearly able to detect similar traits between bottles, secondly there seems to be a strong consistency within the Blair Athol distillery profile regardless the age or the casks involved, proving me right that it is an excellent distillery to explore further.

Score: 86

Nose: 21

Taste: 22
Finish: 21 Balance: 22
   < 75: undrinkable, avoid at all costs
75-79: acceptable, give it a try but don't spend to much money on it
80-84: average, enjoyable whiskies mostly easy sippable entry-level single malt 
85-89: above average drams, often well aged expressions, open your wallet
90-94: excellence, sorry kids no x-mas presents this year, daddy needs this bottle
95-99: divinity, call your bank manager for another mortgage on your house