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Blair Athol (pronounced: blair ATH-ol) is a quiet yet beautiful distillery that has modestly been producing a robust highland distillate for a lot longer than most currently operation distilleries. Founded in 1798 it has always been one of the more Â˜under the radar distilleries but anyone who has had the privilege of visiting it is usually bowled over by its old style Scottish architectural beauty, not to mention the muscular elegance of its spirit.
Blair Athol Distillery
Stills: 2 Wash 2 Spirit
Water Source: Allt Dour Burn
Capacity: 2 Million Litres
1950s-Present: A Quiet Highlander
Blair Athol was modernised fairly early on in the late fifties and seeing as bottlings of it hail almost entirely from after this time there seems little point in delving too far back into production history. The majority of its spirit has gone into the Bells blend over the years although roughly 10 percent is set aside for single malt. The stock for official bottlings is usually entirely sherry matured, as evidenced in the fine Flora & Fauna 12yo. There have also been a few examples from refill wood including the excellent 1975 25yo Rare Malts bottling. These expressions are generally fairly full bodied with the more bourbon influenced bottlings being slightly sweeter, spicier and greenish while sherried versions are more chocolatey, smoky and meaty.
There were official bottlings as far back as the early seventies but these are difficult to find now. The old bottlings are a little more old school and show more wax, overt fruitiness and quite a distinctive oiliness.
There is a good selection of independent bottlings to be found also, the best are usually the aged expressions and fine examples can be found from Douglas Laing, Duncan Taylor and Berry Bros. Although when it comes to Blair Athol by advice would be to not only drink the stuff but also to visit the distillery, it really is a charmer, inside and outside the glass.