Balblair Distillery

Balblair is located in the Highlands, outside the village of Tain. Yes, that Tain, home to that other distillery that sounds like orange (when properly pronounced). But for those who know Balblair, they know it’s certainly not a second fiddle to its neighbor Glenmorangie. Founded in 1790, Balblair holds its own against the many other Highland malts. It’s one of Scotland’s most northern distilleries, its name meaning both fertile valley and battlefield, stemming from its landscape and a face off between the Vikings and the Picts in centuries past.

Like many of the traditional scotch distilleries, Balblair relies on a generations old  Porteus mill for its malt millings. As the story goes, the distinctly red Porteus mills are so reliable, never breaking down or requiring replacement that the company went out of business. Today, service for these arcane machines is rumored to be available by a single Scot, who’s training an apprentice in anticipation of his retirement.           

All Balblair whisky is stored on-site in traditional dunnage warehouses. Therefore, casks are stacked just three high and the angel’s share is relatively low, as compared to palletized warehouses which can reach up to 12 stories. Another interesting fact about Balblair is the barrel entry proof of 68.5%, as compared to 63.5% for most scotch whiskies. The scotch is added to the cask with zero dilution, again quite unusual.

Today Balblair is owned by the Inver House Distillers, a Scottish subsidiary of International Beverage Holdings. The group owns several other single malt distilleries, including Knockdhu and Old Pulteney.

Balblair’s relationship with independent bottlers is quite unique, as for many years all distillery bottlings of Balblair were actually outsourced to Gordon & MacPhail. Today, many other indie bottlers including Creetown Distillers turn out some very special bottlings outside of Balblair’s core range. The Balblair single malts are renowned for their very fruity, sweet and smooth single malts with a spicy finish.

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