1993 Gordon & MacPhail Balblair Cask No. 1969

A single cask from the Balblair Distillery chosen by the world’s leading whisky experts at Gordon & MacPhail exclusively for FINE+RARE. This rare Highland single malt would make a perfect gift for any whisky aficionado or alternatively for someone looking for a delicious way to celebrate a 23rd anniversary or commemorate the dates of June 1993, when the whisky was distilled, or September 2016, when it was bottled.

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The rare malt whisky experts at Gordon & MacPhail have meticulously chosen and bottled a single cask of Balblair exclusively for FINE+RARE. Distilled in June 1993 and aged in first fill Bourbon cask number 1969, this precious malt was bottled in September 2016 at cask strength of 53.6%. We are proud to present: 1993 Gordon & MacPhail Balblair Cask No. 1969.


The cask yielded just 202 bottles and these will be available only through FINE+RARE at £153.60 per bottle all in (£128 duty paid ex VAT), representing stunning value for money for a cask strength, limited edition, 23 year old whisky. Read on to find out more or buy now by clicking below...





Gordon & MacPhail

Founded in 1865 by James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail, Speyside’s famous Gordon & Macphail is an independent family-run business that has been bottling exceptional whisky for over 120 years and is now the proud owner of Benromach Distillery. Probably the world’s most respected whisky experts, their under bond warehouse in Elgin is a veritable treasure trove of more than 7,500 casks, the oldest of which dates back to the 1940s. Such is the secrecy that surrounds these rare and hallowed casks, there is a strict photography ban on visitors to the warehouse. Gordon & MacPhail have bottled more than 300 rare whiskies from over 70 different distilleries.


Their tasting room resembles a science laboratory, filled with vials of malt whisky spanning a range of distilleries, many of which no longer operate, and a depth of history that few will ever be lucky enough to taste during their lifetime. Just as a warm up during our most recent visit, we were given a 1991 from Littlemill, a lowland distillery that has long since been demolished, and a 1979 from Glenesk, a little-known and now dismantled distillery that once produced elements of the iconic Vat 69. You can read more about our visit in our blog post here, but suffice to say, the highlight of our trip was the exquisite single cask chosen exclusively for FINE+RARE by the experts at Gordon & MacPhail from the Balblair Distillery…



Balblair Distillery

This Tain-based Highland distillery produces multi-award-winning fruity and predominantly unpeated, American oak-aged single malt whisky. According to Charles MacLean: “Balblair is among the oldest distilleries in Scotland, and one of the prettiest,” a fact demonstrated by it being chosen as a backdrop for Ken Loach’s iconic The Angel’s Share.  As well as the beauty of the surroundings, those lucky enough to have visited Balblair, four miles west of neighbours Glenmorangie, will have been struck by the purity of the air and unique aroma of their wash – fermenting yeast and wort. Charles MacLean reports that “Edderton [the site of the distillery] is reputed to have the cleanest air in Scotland,” which goes some way to explaining the freshness and purity of Balblair’s single malt. The wash at many distilleries has a distinctly malty ale-like quality, but at Balbair it resembles a German weissbier, hinting at the abundant tropical fruit to be found in the final whisky produced here.


It is a distillery that has always resonated with wine aficionados, not just because it was owned by a wine merchant before the Wars, but because it favours bottling “vintage” whisky, rather than the more common age statement approach adopted by most. Their jovial tweed-clad and vastly experienced Distillery Manager John MacDonald, whose attention to grist borders on the fanatical, choses to bottle at the precise moment the whisky hits its peak character and quality, rather than waiting for a specific age, such as 10 year old, 18 year old, etc., much in the same way as Gordon & MacPhail have done with this bottling chosen for us...



The Whisky: 1993 Gordon & MacPhail Balblair Cask No. 1969

Cask number 1969 - a heavily-charred first fill Bourbon barrel - was filled in June 1993 when Balblair was still owned by Allied Distillers, rather than the incumbent Inver House Distillers (themselves part of InterBev the Southeast Asian giant behind Old Pulteney, anCnoc, Speyburn, Knochdhu and Caorunn Gin). The first fill American oak barrel imparted its potent sweet spices, coconut and vanilla for more than two decades, before the 23 year old single malt was bottled in September 2016 at a cask strength of 53.6%. This Balblair cask is unique in that it spent the last three of its years ageing in the heart of Speyside, rather than at its Highland home. Cask number 1969 gave us just 202 bottles, making this an exceedingly rare dram.


Although this 1993 Gordon & MacPhail Balblair 23 year old has not yet been tasted by the critics, Jim Murray has previously described a Gordon & MacPhail bottled Balblair from a single Sherry puncheon distilled in 1993 as “delightful” and awarded 95.5 points, just two points off his highest ever score, to an American oak Balblair 23 year old. Balblair consistently scores highly in the Whisky Bible, with many of the releases being ranked in the “brilliant” and “superstar whiskies that give us all a reason to live” categories. 


Balblair only released their own bottling of 1993 in Russia, so this is a rare opportunity for the UK market to sample the spoils of this vintage, and even rarer still in single cask, cask strength form. Judging by this particular 1993 whisky it appears that it was a very good year at Balblair…


The experts at Gordon & MacPhail have described the nose of the 1993 Gordon & MacPhail Balblair Single Cask No. 1969 as: “sweet vanilla, apple and fresh lemon aromas followed by toasted malt.” The palate is: “sweet and smooth with desiccated coconut, banana and apple flavours, complemented by a menthol edge.” Meanwhile the finish brings those “lingering ripe exotic fruits” suggested by the distillery’s wash.


If you would like to own one of the 202 bottles of 1993 Balblair Cask No. 1969 handpicked by the world's leading whisky specialists at Gordon & MacPhail for £153.60 per bottle all in (£128 duty paid ex VAT), please do so by clicking below…