Ballechin 17, 2004, Refill Fino (WhiskySponge)

Here is the second of three reviews of single casks of Ballechin—or peated Edradour—released recently by Whisky Sponge. See here for a review of the first cask (a first-fill bourbon barrel) and read the comments on that post for some discussion of the ethical issues that these releases raise. If you have any thoughts about any of that please add them to the comments on that first review so it all stays in one place.

Ballechin 17, 2004 (55.5%; WhiskySponge; Edition 36B; Refill Fino Sherry Butt; from a bottle split)

Nose: Dry, farmy peat with some sweet notes around the edges of the smoke. Gets more organic and vegetal as it sits—definitely something rotting in the undergrowth in the middle distance, the aroma being wafted over on a briny, sea breeze (yes, I know where Edradour is located). Water softens the whole up: the farmy peat abates and there’s a touch of vanilla now. The salt expands again with time.

Palate: Comes in as promised by the nose at first but turns richer as I swallow. Some pipe tobacco in here and some savoury gunpowder. Very approachable at full strength and a medium weight on the palate. Sweeter with time as the pipe tobacco expands—and is that some malt poking through the farmy smoke?—and the salt pops out earlier too. Okay, let’s see what water does. It softens things here as well, emphasizing the pipe tobacco; the farmy notes recede and there’s more char in the smoke.

Finish: Long. The smoke gets quite ashy as it goes, joined by the salt. Richer here too as it sits. As on the palate with water.

Comments: As with the ex-bourbon cask, this comes across a bit younger than its 17 years. Not a sherry bomb by any means, it is very clearly a sibling of the other; farmy peat, salt, acid, char: all are present in both. What the refill fino sherry seems to add here is some of the richer and more savoury stuff on the palate. I preferred the nose neat and the palate with water. And I like it about the same as the bourbon cask.

Rating: 87 points.



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