Ballechin is the name Edradour give their peated malt, which they’ve been making and maturing for a bit over a decade now. There have been a number of “limited” releases of this aging spirit along the way, from a range of cask types. I’ve reviewed #3 (port), #4 (oloroso) and #5 (marsala). I liked them all, the oloroso cask most of all. As such, I’ve been looking forward to trying their regular release 10 yo ever since it was first released last year (I think).
I got a chance to taste it when I visited Florin (small forward for the Sacramento Kings) in San Diego at the end of December, and was not overly impressed with the small taste of it I had then (small taste because if you have large tastes of everything Florin insists you drink when you visit him you will die within 30 minutes). He prevailed on me to carry a larger sample home for more careful review and here I am.
Ballechin 10 (46%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Very strong peat, both organic (leafy) and acidic (a bit of lime). Gets sweeter and maltier as it sits and then brinier and more lemony. With more time the vanilla that shows up on the palate emerges on the nose as well. Gets brighter and more integrated with a few drops of water.
Palate: Starts wit coal smoke and then gets ashier and sweeter. Not a whole lot else at first but what there is is very good. With time the organic notes (wet leaves, compost) begin to show up along with some vanilla and then the lime pops up as well. With more time it gets saltier faster. With a lot of time the vanilla gets quite strong. Water does knock the vanilla back but it makes it more one note: sharp, acidic smoke.
Finish: Long. Ashy smoke that just keeps going. With time salt crystals begin to pop. More lime with water and some wet gravel along with the smoke.
Comments: The peaty quality here is similar to that in Jura, peated Bunnahabhain and Ardmore, though it’s considerably smokier than most of those that I’ve tried. I liked this a lot more tonight than I did on my brief acquaintance with it at Chateau Florin—and I liked the nose more with water and the palate better without. If it cost $50 or lower I’d recommend it as a peated whisky for everyday drinking, but at $70 it’s overpriced for what it is (I do give Edradour credit, however, for putting out a 10 yo when most everyone else is dropping the age and age statement of their young whiskies).
Rating: 85 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample!