Ballechin: 10 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 10 year: 46% ABV)
Visual: Deep gold.
Viscosity: Very slow, thin streaks.
Nose: Massive peat and beef broth. Grassy. Beef crisps. Slight alcohol, but mainly smooth. Water adds a slight menthol character.
Body: Sweet apricot front. Light granite and alcohol. Intense smoke. Peaty beef. Short lived toffee. Lime syrup. Brown bread. Caramel and treacle. Water makes smoother and grassier. Fruitcake. More water adds apples, slight creamy character and dried apricot.
Finish: Barbecued charred beef. Smoke and peat. Lightly grassy. Caramelized brown sugar and malted drinks. Light custard. Water adds cherry and black cherries. Orange crème. Caramel. Chocolate liqueur.
Conclusion: Well, this really is different to Edradour, which you may feel goes without saying, but even for a peated expression this felt different. Question is, is it any good?
Well, intense peat booms out from the front – beefy, smoky, you know the drill by now. Not much else at this point – none of the Islay harshess that peat often calls to mind, and the native Highland sweetness is well hidden. There is a slight grassy character, Springbank style, but otherwise you just get the peat ascendant here.
There is a sweet front when you sip, but it is rapidly punched down by the peat. In fact, let’s skip ahead a bit – basically all I was going to say for the experience without water is peat and beef – simple, ok, but very one note. Let’s get past all that and get some water play going already.
Now the goof old Edradour character I know comes out – there is still booming peat, but now matched by a lightly creamy and very fresh fruit whisky underneath. In fact even some of the caramel sweetness starts coming out to play. More recognisable as a cousin to Edradour and much better for it.
Lots of fresh apples and cream, drying smoke and peat – the sweetness is more treacle and caramel with lots of dark touches. Even with water there is some prickly alcohol though. It feels pretty unbalanced – the flavours aren’t well matched, but it is an interesting experience. It feels like an attempt to shove all the whisky regions into one – grass from Campbeltown, Islay peat, Highland sweetness and Speyside fruitiness. Island and lowland, erm, ok, I can’t think of any for them, but run with me on this one ok?
I can’t say I would recommend it as it is too all over the place, but it is not bad. However we seem to have a renaissance of peated, sweet and light whisky going on right now and there are many that play the game far better. Ok, but with nothing to call its unique element.
Background: Doing a lot of the peated variants on distilleries whisky at the moment it seems. This is a peated take on the Edradour whisky which I grabbed from The Whisky Exchange. Thought it was worth grabbing a bunch of miniatures while I ordered a normal sized bottle . Not much more to add. Drunk while listening to Against Me!’s live album.