Bladnoch 1990 NSS

"It is a bit too imbalanced towards the sour side, but has a strong finish"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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North Star Spirits have seriously been busy with releasing a range of single cask versions of single malt Scotch along with several blended versions. All bottles look impeccably attractive to stand out of the enormous range of independent bottlers that whisky enthusiasts can choose from. The Bladnoch bottling that I will taste today was part of their 6th range bottles and was distilled in 1990, at a time when the distillery was owned by United Distillers who closed the distillery a few years later. After changing ownership a few more times, it is now active once again since 2017 in the hands of Australian entrepreneur David Prior. Since 1990 this Bladnoch bottling has been matured for 28 years in a refill barrel resulting in a strength of 51.2% ABV. According to the label, the nose smells like wet bracken and sitka spruce, and it tastes like Bel Canto liquorice imps with a finish of Fleur de Sel and dark chocolate. I had to search the internet to what some of these notes actually are, and I must say it seems quite an unusual combination.

Nose

A powerful nose that proceeds with a sour, tangy kind of fruitiness. Think of gooseberries, grapefruit, and citrus biscuits. There is clear note of sour dough and freshly baked shortbread. It feels like it is a bit closed, so I will start by adding a few drops of water. It opens, a little bit, and brings vanilla, lemon oil and a hint of camphor or dried lavender. I would even say that there is some similarity to some of the independent Clynelish bottlings that I have tasted.

Taste

Acrid, almost chemical at first, before the unripe gooseberries appear. There is also a hint of sand or plasticine. A few drops of water improves the taste, although it is still rather biting. The gooseberries have ripened, and there is more cookie dough. The development leads along vanilla cake, citrus juice, and becomes fruitier. I also get several oils, lemon oil sunflower oil, which are very nice. The aftertaste is long with more vanilla and citrus.

Overall

This is an interesting dram. I would say the aftertaste is the strongest part with the long duration and more balance between the oils, citrus fruits and dough notes. The nose is too much on a the sour fruit side and would benefit with more balance and depth, but even adding more water did not open it up. The palate is too acrid in the beginning and only start to be comfortable after about 20 seconds. Let’s conclude that it could use more balance and depth, but also has its merits. By the way, I did not really get any of the tasting notes from the label. I sometimes wonder who writes these, or it could be that my tasting buds are slightly abnormal.

What others say

Whiskybase: 88.56 (21 votes) * Serge Valentin @Whiskyfun: 90/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
25%
Sour <-> Sweet
15%
  • Gooseberries
  • Cookie dough
  • Vanilla oil
Nose 83%
Taste 85%
Balance 82%
Depth 86.5%
Finish 85%
Score