Watches and Whisky: Balblair Vintage 1969 + Omega Speedmaster 1969


1969: Whiskies from Balblair are completely unique, each named after the year it was laid in cask. Each Vintage is selected when it has reached its absolute peak of perfection, hand-picked to represent the very best that the Distillery has to offer. Balblair Distillery was established in 1790 and is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland and the oldest in the Highlands. Balblair is situated by the beautiful Dornoch Firth on the sweep of the Cambuscurrie Bay and close to the original source of its water, which is still used to this day. Balblair 1969 is a scotch that requires patience and is a vintage that displays remarkable complexity and balance. Truly the jewel in the crown for Balblair. Originally released in the States in late 2012, this vintage has recently been launched for the rest of world for all to savour.

On the nose: you’ll be welcomed with sweet notes of vanilla. Notes of a cedar wood nature will start to appear followed by flavours of deep toffee notes. Some wafts of liquorice will emerge, along with some dried figs, a touch of smoke and spicy oak. On the palate: those rich, deep, sweet toffee notes will make their presence known, along with the vanillas and spices. Those dried fig notes and cedar wood will slowly start to appear. There is a lovely note of fragrant incense floating around, accompanied with those hints of smoke. The finish: is medium to long, sweet and spicy with a lingering oak.

The verdict: This Balblair vintage 1969 is superbly balanced and has classic Balblair notes written all over it. It is however a dram that requires a bit of patience until you can fully enjoy it. A scotch that, in my opinion, didn’t need any water – though if you do need to then only add a very small amount, as when too much was added this over powered the oak and cedar wood notes. Allow the scotch to breathe for approx. 5 – 10 minutes to open up the nose and palate, then you’ll be able to enjoy the plethora of notes on offer.

Info: ABV 41.4% in a 70cl bottle (limited to only 999 worldwide)

1969: The 20th July 1969 will always remain special, as this was the day of the lunar landing achieved by the gentleman aboard the Apollo 11 spaceflight. However, in the watch community this date is also very special because upon the wrist of Neil Armstrong, was an Omega Speedmaster professional. This was the wristwatch chosen by NASA to accompany every astronaut on every manned spaceflight mission – hence the reason this watch has also been given the nickname “Moonwatch”.

This 1969 Speedmaster dial, features a two-tier layered dial, with a black matte finish and three, engine turned, chronograph subsidiary dials, at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. Registering minutes, hours and continuous seconds, respectively. For legibility the dial makes use of white, contrasting, stick-hands and applied, block, luminous hour markers. As it was originally designed for motorsports racing, it features a black tach-o-metre bezel.

Beating away in the original “Moonwatch” references was the famous Lemania 2310, or as Omega called it the calibre 321, which utilised a much sought after column wheel chronograph mechanism. This particular Omega reference 145.022-69 ST, utilises the calibre 861 movement, which uses a shuttle cam chronograph mechanism that is a little less sought after but for Omega this allowed them to produce the Speedmaster in much larger and more economic numbers. This movement is housed in a 42 mm asymmetrical stainless steel case and is still made with the same blueprint today.

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