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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Single Malt Report: Ballechin Batch 3, Port Cask Matured

Before the 10 year old, Ballechin was released as "The Discovery Series", without age statements and in a different sort of cask each year.  They were as follows:

Ballechin batch 1 - First-fill Burgundy Wine Casks (2006)
Ballechin batch 2 - Madeira Puncheons (2007)
Ballechin batch 3 - Port Hogsheads (2008)
Ballechin batch 4 - Oloroso Sherry Butts (2009)
Ballechin batch 5 - Marsala Hogsheads (2010)
Ballechin batch 6 - Bourbon Barrels (2011)
Ballechin batch 7 - Bordeaux Hogsheads (2012)
Ballechin batch 8 - Sauternes Hogsheads (2013)

Thanks to Florin (the local Ballechin fan), I have a sample of batch 3 to report on...

Distillery: Edradour
Malt: Ballechin
Ownership: Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co., Ltd.
Region: Highlands (Central)
Bottling year: 2008
Maturation: Port Hogsheads
Limited Bottling: 6000
Peat level at time of malting: ~50ppm
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? No
(Thanks to Florin for the sample!)

Its color is light gold with a slight pink-orange hue.  The first big note in the nose is chocolate tangerine peat.  The port level is mild at first but strengthens with time.  Blackberry popsicle.  Hint of menthol.  The peat gets greener with time.  Then suddenly, its a whole pan of raspberry bars!  The palate is much ashier than that of the 10 year old.  Thickly textured, it feels much larger than 46%abv.  Chocolate, toffee, and sweet grapes at first.  Then the 10's chili oil note leaps forth.  And lots of dark berries in peat syrup (or vice versa?).  A little more wine in the finish.  Limeade, salt, and dry peat smoke.  Medium levels of sugar and (peppery) spice.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose becomes milder and softer.  The port and peat become floral.  Lemon zest, vanilla, and maybe a hint of honey develop.  The palate becomes ashier and bitterer.  Less fruit, more straight up sugar.  Acidic, too.   The finish is sweet and ashy.  Floral and acidic.  Maybe some bitter chocolate?  Decent length.

For an non-Islay wine-cask-aged NAS peated whisky, this is hard to top -- though I'm not sure how much competition it actually has.  I'd even say it's better than many age statemented Islay peaters.  The nose, palate, and finish are equally solid, though I don't recommend adding water.  The peat and port not only play well together but also compliment each other.  Good stuff this porty peaty Edradour.

Though this has become difficult to find, I still think its current US prices (floating around $100) are goofy.  Its original US price of $80ish is little more reasonable and, unlike the Ballechin 10, I'd be willing to pay $70-$80 for this Batch 3 because the quality is present in the bottle.

Availability - Scarce in the US and Europe
Pricing - $100 or so in the US; $85-110 in Europe
Rating - 88