This week of reviews of peated whiskies began on Monday with an indie Port Charlotte that is said to have some sherry involvement. It continued on Wednesday with the 2018 release of the official Ledaig 10 that may or may not have sherry casks in the vatting. Here to close out the week is another indie that is unambiguously sherried. Indeed it’s from a single sherry butt and a first-fill butt at that. It’s a 10 yo Ballechin—or peated Edradour—from Signatory, who’ve bottled a number of sherried Ballechins of this general age in the last few years. I’ve liked the ones I’ve tried and so have high hopes for this one. Let’s see if they’re borne out.
It just struck me, by the way, that this week ended up having a secondary theme: not only were these all peated whiskies but they’re all the heavily peated variants from distilleries that are at least nominally known for unpeated/lightly peated malt.
Ballechin 10, 2010 (58.9%; Signatory; first-fill sherry butt 195; from a bottle split)
Nose: Against the odds, that nutty, beany Edradour quality comes through first along with some rubber gaskets and some malt. The smoke and sherry begin to emerge more fully on the second and third sniff. There’s a bit of ink in the smoke and some pencil lead and salt. Still quite tight with the alcohol though. With more time and air there’s some dried orange peel. A few drops of water soften it up nicely and pull out more of the dried orange peel along with some toffee.
Palate: The smoke and sherry come in strong here with the salt behind. Hot but not unapproachable at full strength. The smoke here is mostly woodsmoke, with a fair bit of charred oak and a sweetness that has the same origin. It’s a big whisky but it doesn’t have much to say so far. Let’s see if time and water change that. Well, the dried orange peel from the nose pops out here as well with time but the overall impression is mostly of raw youth (oak). With more time still it softens further (and to its benefit). Water opens it up nicely with more of the malt coming through along with notes of cocoa and cream.
Finish: Long. The smoke expands and billows for a while with salt in its wake. With time the sweeter notes carry through here as well along with bitter notes of coffee grounds. As on the palate with air and water.
Comments: As with a lot of young sherried and peated whiskies at high strengths this needs time/air and water to show its best self. If you still have an unopened bottle, it’s not one to rush through. That’s not to say that it’s going to demonstrate great complexity but it’ll reward your patience.
Rating: 86 points.