Back again to the combo of big sherry and big peat. This Ballechin was/is an exclusive for the Whisky Barrel. It was bottled by Signatory and as Signatory owns Edradour—whose peated malt Ballechin is—it seemed a pretty good bet that this would be a good cask. Also relevant: I quite liked the old limited edition Ballechin 4 which was from oloroso casks (or finished in oloroso casks, I can’t remember). I got this sample as part of a bottle split and indeed liked it so much (spoiler alert) that I purchased a couple of bottles. I was surprised to see later that Serge didn’t rate it very highly. This may explain why this is still available from the Whisky Barrel. I think it’s one that requires some time and then water to reveal all its charms. Anyway, I do recommend it highly, especially if you like that combo of big sherry and big peat.
Ballechin 12, 2005 (61.5%; Signatory for the Whisky Barrel; refill sherry hogshead #160; from a bottle split)
Nose: Pretty tight—as expected, given the abv—but there’re some nutty and raisiny notes and some earthy peat and pencil lead as well. The peat expands as it sits and some orange peel peeks out as well, but this needs water. Ah yes, a few drops of water and it begins to sing: toffee, dried orange peel, plum sauce, sweet pipe tobacco; and sweet smoke.
Palate: Pretty tight here too with the graphite and the earthy peat making the first impression and sweeter notes rising up from below. With more time orange peel and raisins and apricot jam appear. Okay, let’s see what water does. Well, it brings out more smoke and cracked black pepper and pulls the bbq pork out quicker. The smoke builds with every sip and the sweet pipe tobacco from the nose emerges strong as well.
Finish: Long. The sweeter notes emerge more fully here (maple, caramel, bbq pork). The smoke gets ashier with water and the sweeter and earthier notes deepen as well.
Comments: Lovely stuff. It’s a peat-sherry bomb too, like the Single Malts of Scotland Ledaig I reviewed earlier this month, but it’s subtler and less of a blunt instrument on both the peat and sherry fronts.
Rating: 90 points.