Last night, I was invited to a special tasting of Balblair, a Highland single malt scotch whisky as it made it's U.S. debut in LA. I like Scotch, however, I don't always drink it and am far from a connoisseur, unlike the guys from the LA Scotch Club that were there or even my girls Esther and Caroline who are known to order Scotch when out. My father actually trained himself to drink Scotch since it causes less of a hangover due to the lack of sugar. I guess I need more practice then as I still make that scrunched up face like I just sucked on a lemon after I take a sip.
While at the party and hanging with eStarLA, Gourmet Pigs, ShopEatSleep, StreetGourmetLA and Lost Angeles, I also got to speak with Andy Hannah of Balblair. He told me that only seven men work and operate their Highland distillery and that it is one of the world's oldest working distilleries dating back to 1790 of the Clan Ross. I also asked him what Balblair means and apparently it's an old highland term for Battlefield. I like that.
Balblair comes in different vintages (yup, like wine) and being sold in the states now are their '91 and '97 vintages. I was told to try the 1991 as it was smoother, while the 1997 is spicy and fruity. Being a Scotch novice, I went with smooth and tried the Balblair '91 and definitely agreed. It was so smooth in fact that I didn't make my typical lemon face afterwards. The Balblair '91 is golden honey in color and retails for $129.99 a bottle. It is described to have chocolate, toffee and leather hints, yet has a vanilla oak fragrance to it. Soon I was talking like Anchorman's Ron Burgundy and singing, "I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly..."
The 1997 was indeed spicier, more amber in color and it lit my tongue on fire. After the burn settled it was also enjoyable and is more reasonably priced at $64.99 a bottle. If you don't want to invest in those prices though you can order a Balblair neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail at The Edison, The Thirsty Crow, The Palm in downtown, Checkers Hotel and Gassers in Redondo Beach. For my New Yorkers, you can also try Balblair at the Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand hotels.