83.09/100 – Whiskybase (average from 727 member votes)
If you’re ever fortunate enough to find yourself in Aberdeen (Scotland), the place I associate with Diageo’s ‘Flora & Fauna’ (F&F) range of single malts is the Atholl Hotel on King’s Gate. The bar is open to the public as well as paying guests. The hotel is set in a grand granite building in the wealthiest part of town so I’d recommend wearing a suit or posh frock, or perhaps both because it’s always cold in Aberdeen! The bar itself has a calm décor of light wood and subtle tartan fabrics with ample seating and the obligatory 60” TV stuck on the wall. The whisky selection isn’t vast (about 30 options including blends) but it’s dominated by F&F bottles, which take pride of place on the shelves at the back of the bar.
I was amused to read in Michael Jackson’s book ‘Malt Whisky Companion’ that he considers the Blair Athol 12yo to be a mid-afternoon drink. It makes me wonder what he recommends for breakfast! Mr Jackson says of the palate “spiced cake, candied lemon peel, lots of flavour development” and 78/100 puts this dram firmly in the “worth tasting” category.
Scoring slightly over 83/100 on Whiskybase from 727 votes makes the Blair Athol 12yo one of the highest scoring F&F bottlings still available today. There are plenty of people singing its praises. Comments online include “very decent whisky with a nice fruit component”, “impressive malt, very intense”, “mature, delicious and full of character” and “an extremely tasty all-rounder. Simply classic”.
Tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Nutty with sherried notes. Gentle peat. Crisp.
Palate: Good body, malty and sweet. Citrus and the peels thereof.
Finish: Peat smoke, syrup. Good sweetness, bittersweet, drying.
Here’s Swedish Whisky Girl on YouTube (August 2020) outside Blair Athol distillery in Pitlochry with her thoughts on the 12yo:
82.57/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)
I bought these two miniatures (5cl and 3cl) of the Blair Athol at auction, mainly because nobody else was going to, and I needed a few more bottles to justify the cost of postage. Having seen the Blair Athol 8yo sell at auction before, I knew I wouldn’t have much, or any competition. Sadly, it’s never been a single malt to set the world on fire or attract much interest.
I had to take a guess on Whiskybase as to which Blair Athol 8yo my purchases are. I believe the bottles date back to the 1980s. There is no mention of an 8yo Blair Athol in the Whisky Bible, even as far back as 2006. Clearly the distillery realised they were flogging a dead horse and decided to change to a different version.
I have quite a soft spot for Blair Athol, even if I have no great experience of the whisky produced there. The distillery is based in the heart of Pitlochry, where I visited family, and enjoyed many a happy holiday there in the 1970s and 80s. I intend to visit the distillery one day, and take a trip down memory lane with a tour of the town. If the whisky is as delightful as the surrounding countryside, I’ll be in for a treat!
84.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
80.67/100 – Whiskybase (average from 3 member votes)
I was slightly surprised to find this version of Blair Athol in the Whisky Bible, thinking it was a bit obscure, but there it was at the bottom of page 56. This is my first bottle of ‘Provenance’ by Douglas Laing & Co. Apparently it has a “sherry butt” which Jim Murray doesn’t feel adds anything to the dram. Nevertheless 84.5/100 is a good score and I’d rather have a sherry butt than cottage cheese thighs any day! With no added colour, non-chill filtered and 46% it has all the good things going for it.