...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ballechin 10 year old 2005, cask 221 for K&L Wine Merchants

After the disappointing experience with Monday's Ballechin (of course that's the bottle I bought blindly), I decided to add some perspective to the next tastings, while also testing to make sure my palate was okay. I lined up the other two Ballechin single casks and set them against the current Port Charlotte 10yo. Happily my palate is awake, but does that mean happy times for Ballechin?

First up, a single ex-bourbon cask bottled by the distillery for K&L Wines in the US.

Distillery: Edradour
Malt: Ballechin
Ownership: Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co., Ltd.
Region: Highlands (Central)
Age: 10 years (2005-2016)
Maturation: bourbon cask
Cask #: 221
Outturn: 231
Bottled for: K&L Wine Merchants
Alcohol by Volume: 55.8%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? No
(Thank you to Florin for the sample!)

Peated apple juice and paint VOCs in the nose. Burnt plastic, barley and heat. Quirky and more interesting notes pass briefly in the background: dirty hay, flowers, soap and watermelon candy. The palate is hotter than I expected, but it is fruitier than the nose (think pear and guava). A moderate level of peat smoke. A slight plasticky note gets heavier with time. The sweetness also increases with time, until it borders on cloying. The heat and wood smoke in the finish can't stand up to all the sugar.

DILTUED TO ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose is farmier and maltier, with some anise, vanilla and root beer. The palate's sweetness calms down, trending towards golden raisins. Pears and plastic. Less peat. The finish matches the palate, and adds a sprinkle of cinnamon.

While this cask is an improvement over Monday's cask, especially when diluted, this 11yo feels very very young, perhaps half its age. The exception to this is the peat which, again, is lighter than I expected from a Ballechin. I found it all much too sweet when neat. Thankfully dilution makes some good corrections.

This is the fourth single bourbon cask Ballechin I've had, and they've all been kinda so-so. Thus I don't think Ballechin can compete with Ledaig and Port Charlotte in that category. Will Friday's sherry cask fare better?

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $90
Rating - 82 (diluted only)


  1. I seem to recall the whisky improved once I reached the midpoint of the bottle. However I forgot to take notes and the bottle is long gone.

  2. I gave it faint praise, but a high grade: "Not as peaty as the OB's, but on the right night it's very very enjoyable!" ~86pts.