Just in time for Thanksgiving, our last direct import of 2011 has arrived: the completely disregarded, totally overlooked, 11 year old Blair Athol single malt. It's not even a 12 year, it's from a weird distillery, it's not peated, it's not sherried, it's not cask enhanced, and it's $75. Who in the heck would buy this? While we sourced this cask from a Glasgow warehouse, we happened to pass the distillery on our way back to the airport after visiting Edradour. As we were gassing up the car, David OG turned and said, "Hey! Isn't that Blair Athol?" Gathered around the front entrance, next to a giant sign that read "Home of Bell's Blended," stood over a dozen grey-haired gentlemen with cameras, fanny packs, and khaki pants. It turned out to be a tour group of British men who had made the trek up from England to visit their favorite distillery. Really? Blair Athol?
As fellow co-worker, and self-described "32 going on 90" resident old man Joe Manekin told me yesterday, "I feel totally appropriate drinking this!" And that was without me telling him the above story! There is a rustic, old-school charm to this malt. It's very basic, but at the same time stylish - think Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground (all in black, but very well tailored). Powerful vanilla, sweet barley and grains, and flurries of fruit that combine to create one basic flavor: Scotch. This whisky is like the single malt version of the Rattray Blend that we received earlier this year, but a bit more interesting. While the Littlemill bottle got the 60's, art-deco era style label, it would better suit this whisky. It's a throwback, pure and simple. And a good one at that. They don't make 'em like this anymore, save maybe for the rare Glent Grant or Old Pulteney bottle.