I’ve previously reviewed the port cask-matured third edition in Edradour’s Ballechin series of young peated whisky. Tonight I am tasting the fourth edition which was matured in oloroso sherry casks. The bottle itself was finished quite some time ago but, as usual, I have a large reference sample reserved. I’ve liked this one very much in the past; let’s see how it holds up tonight.
Ballechin 4, Oloroso (46%; oloroso sherry matured; from a reference sample from my own bottle)
Nose: Peat and carbolic smoke which turns somewhat organic and farmy pretty quickly. Some of the vegetal/bell peppery quality not unusual in sherried peaters. The dark sherry aromas are evident–the usual suspects (raisins, hint of orange liqueur)–but the primary notes are of the peat. With time there’s a slightly nutty quality and it also gets somewhat coastal (sea air, sea shells). After yet more time the smoke is dry and leafy. Twenty minutes and a few sips later the raisins are a lot more pronounced and joined by some caramel. Water does not do anything interesting.
Palate: Lovely integration of peat and sherry. Starts out darkly sweet but as I swallow here comes the iodine and tar and a wave of smoke both woody and medicinal. Gets quite salty with the second sip and the smoke is more leafy and dry now on the palate as well. Not very much more but what there is is good. As on the nose with water.
Finish: Long. Tarry and sweet in turns at first and then leafy and dry and quite salty (salted pistachio salty).
Comments: At first this was not quite as Islay-like as the Ballechin 3 in its peatiness; it seemed closer to other Highland/Speyside peated whiskies I’ve tried, such as those from Benriach, Benromach and Ardmore, while not quite as farmy as those. With more time, however, this comes closer to the Islay peat profile (well, not that of Bowmore or Bunnahabhain). Rather nice and I would love to taste a much older version of this. I realize I wrote longer notes for the Port version while giving it a (slightly) lower score; that’s because there was more going on in that one, but not all of it was good. I wonder how it is that Edradour makes such consistently good peated whisky while being so variable with their regular bottlings.
Rating: 87 points.