Vintages often define a wine, but typically a year has little to do with Scotch whiskies. Balblair is an exception.
The 1997 Balblair, a smooth, creamy and seductive Highland single malt, gets your attention with its amber hue and suggestions of pineapple and dried fruit. It's a very appealing, full-bodied Scotch, with traces of spice and vanilla, plus a little citrus, all leading to a long finish.
A bottle of the '97 Balblair is about $50. Small batches of Balblair from the 1989 and 2000 vintages also are expected to be available shortly in the United States.
Speyburn 10 Years, a Highland fling of a Scotch, comes from the Speyside district. This is a lighter, fruitier Scotch, very accessible, with notes of lemon and honey. It's a medium-bodied whisky, with a pale-gold shade. The finish delivers more than a suggestion of peat. Speyburn's price range can go from the upper $20s to the high-$40s.
That's a pretty good deal for a Scotch of this quality. If, however, that lottery ticket came through, there are 275 bottles of the Highland Park 50 Year Old Scotch out there. Each is in a hand-carved box of Scottish oak and each is armored with sterling-silver netting. Figure $17,500.
For the record, I haven't tasted it.
Long Island's Wine of the Week
The 2008 Macari Vineyards Cabernet Franc is another example of the grape's potential on the East End. The Mattituck wine offers plum and raspberry, cherry and spice, all neatly packaged and very good, especially with tomato-sauced dishes. About $35.