Tag Archives: Picked Walnuts

Crazy good Balblair from 1993, matured in a first fill sherry puncheon, bottled by Gordon MacPhail


Region – Speyside – ABV – 53.4% ABV – Cask 1962 – First Fill Sherry Puncheon – This was around $150

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962It wasn’t long ago that I had a chance to sit down with my good friend Jonathan Bray to review this Balblair.

Actually, yes, it was quite some time ago…. back in May/June based on my tasting notes and the published date of Jonathan’s review. Ugh.

♬ Ti-i-i-ime is not on my side, no it isn’t! ♬ Where does the time go?!

My apologies to you, dear reader, and my apologies to Jonathan, for not getting this review up sooner.

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962On the nose — A host of notes you’d come to expect from a heavily sherried whisky: pickled walnuts, cherry pits, German brown bread, cola syrup, and dark bitter chocolate.

What you’d not expect (or maybe you would) is a quite present phenolic component giving off notes of a fireworks finale, burning cardboard, and what I can only assume is the scent of the Heaven’s Gate cult compound living quarters. They kept quite clean, as I understand.  You know, before the end…

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962A-a-a-a-a-nyway, I’m also detecting sulphured figs and dried papaya, too.

In the mouth — Chewy, unctuous, moreish, dare I say massive.

Tasting notes aside, my initial reaction is “damn, this is good tasting juice!”

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962Deep and dark fruits (insert Landry list here) which is countered by Balblair’s natural tropical fruit notes but they’re dried (more papaya, candied medjool dates, black currant, and interestingly some raw coconut flesh).

This is near flawless on the palate.

Finish — Perfectly timed tannins, sweet Thai chili sauce, decent length

In sum — While the nose presented some slightly off/sulphuric notes, the palate delivered in a way that few heavily sherried whiskies do. Stunning delivery of flavors and a finish that makes you want to sip more. Without getting into too much detail, the addition of water turns this into a vorpal +4 whisky of drinking. You basically roll a natural 20 on a d20 when adding water and the fruits just multiply.

Oy, Oi, Oy, this is a cracking good dram and if you can still find a bottle, you could consider yourself *very* lucky.  Not convinced?  Be sure to check out Jonathan’s review of this gem.