Balblair Debuts its 21-year-old Whisky: Patience Deliciously Rewarded

Images Credit Balblair and Greg Allen Photography

In the 1980s there was a television commercial starring Orson Wells for Paul Mason wines where he smugly states:  We will sell no wine before its time.  Time, and more importantly patience, is a key ingredient in wine as well as in spirits. It is a component equally as significant as the fruit or the barley or as imperative as the talent of the winemaker or distiller. Some whiskies take the length of a generation or more to achieve their full potential but, if done well, will be worth the wait. Balblair, an icon of Scottish whisky, has just released a permanent addition to its collection, 21 years in the making.  And yes, as you take your first slow sip, you will agree that it is indeed beyond worth the wait. 

Balblair knows a bit about the whisky business. And it has taken them over two centuries to introduce to the world their 21-year-old whisky. For this momentous event, they chose an icon of time itself, the Royal Observatory Greenwich, a place where time zones around the world were created with the establishment of the Prime Meridian in 1884. The black tie affair was attended by the who’s who from the spirits industry, media, and retailers from around the world.  

Balblair Scottish Whisky

Balblair is a revered member of Scottish whisky tradition and was established in 1790. It is in fact the oldest working whisky distillery in a location that one would imagine, amongst the enchanting landscapes of the Scottish Highlands.  With each sip of their range of whiskies, you will taste not only the essence of its origin but of generations of Scottish whisky talent, tradition, and craftsmanship.  

The Balblair philosophy is best summarized with their motto: Patience Deliciously Rewarded.  And time and patience is a key ingredient in each of their whisky recipes. From the slow distillation to years of maturation in barrels stored in their dirt floor warehouses, it is evident that time is a respected and honored component.  Balblair 21-year-old joins their 12-year-old, 15-year-old, and 18-year-old to comprise Balblair’s core collection.

The long-awaited launch of the Balblair 21-year-old whisky was shared with the world in a place where time did not begin but clearly where it became defined for the world. The Royal Observation is where time was scientifically defined by astrophysicists in 1755. This is hallowed ground and the significance of holding the launch event for their 21-year-old whisky did not go by the small group of guests attending the launch event. 

The black-tie soiree was attended by key figures in the spirits industry, their most esteemed retailers, and press from around the world.  During the launch event, guests had a lovely evening of canapes and conversation as well as a fine dining experience. However, the star of the evening was an exploration of a quartet of Balbalir Single Malts from the distillery. The culmination of the event was the introduction and tasting of their 21-year-old led by John MacDonald.  


The year was 2002.  It may not seem that long ago to many but that was the first year of American Idol when Kelly Clarson won the top spot and  Halley Berry won the Best Actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball.   Well, that same year, over two decades ago, Balmain crafted these spirits and laid them away in caskets to slowly mature as the ingredients fermented, chemically reacted, and blended to create nothing less than magic in a glass.

The 21-year-old single malt began its journey in American oak ex-bourbon for 15 years followed by an extended phase of refinement in handpicked Spanish oak casks, seasoned with Oloroso wine. The result is a sherry-influenced single malt with a rich amber hue. On the nose, the aroma is expressed with notes of burnt pineapple and apricots intertwined with cinnamon and nutmeg followed by caramel, apples, and honey. On the palate, you'll experience mango and pineapple laced with cloves and ginger. And finally, the long finish offers notes of dark chocolate and tropical fruit.  The Balblair 21-year-old is bottled at 70cl with an ABV of 46% and is available in limited quantity.  

Reflecting on this latest milestone, John MacDonald, Balblair’s Distillery Manager, remarked, “Balblair’s 21-Year-Old is the culmination of our commitment to craftsmanship and the timeless art of whisky-making. From the moment the spirit touches the cask until it reaches full maturity, every detail is carefully nurtured, resulting in a remarkable whisky that flawlessly captures the essence of Balblair.”

Balbalir 21 is not a spirit to have every day. It is to be reserved for special occasions.  Sometimes with friends and loved ones. But also for those moments alone. Perhaps on a wintery night while inside your toasty den by the fire. As you sit in your leather cheserterfield chair having a moment in solitude with only the crackling of the fire there to break the silence. You hold up your dram to admire its color in the light and take note of its viscosity as it swirls around the glass. And slowly and purposely sip, savoring its decadence and complexity of notes, the craftsmanship of its makers, and the journey of time to produce this opulent whisky. And then to take time to pause and to reflect upon this special moment.    

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Glenn Harris

Glenn Harris is an accomplished journalist focusing on international travel, fine dining, and luxury lifestyle events. His wanderlust has taken him to over 105 countries where he is constantly straying off the beaten path uncovering new and exotic finds. He particularly enjoys seeking out lesser known travel gems and places to stay, dine, or experiences to capture. ...(Read More)

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