...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Ballechin 11 year old 2005 van Wees The Ultimate, cask 218

My Ballechin enthusiasm began with their "The Discovery Series", the world's introduction to Edradour's heavily-peated single malt. Recently I realized my Ballechin excitement peaked with that very good series as well. Though I've mentally grouped Ballechin with Ledaig and Port Charlotte, I've never been wowed by any successive bottlings of Pitlochry's peater. More age and higher ABV hasn't necessarily lifted the countless single casks above the original releases.

Let's see if there are any killers in this week's three 10-11 year old Ballechin single casks. The first is from a bottle of mine, 84% of which went to a Columbus Scotch Night event in early 2017.

Distillery: Edradour
Malt: Ballechin
Ownership: Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co., Ltd.
Bottler: van Wees (The Ultimate series)
Region: Highlands (Central)
Age: 11 years (2005-2016)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Cask #: 218
Bottle: 19 of 220
Alcohol by Volume: 54.5%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? No

The nose starts off with eau de vie, yeast and sugar. Then kettle corn and cinnamon. It has a simple ocean-y peat and hints of flower blossoms. An apple pie note shows up after some time. Lots of heat in the palate. Then salt water taffy, almonds, salt and brown sugar. It gets sweeter and spicier with time, especially when a cinnamon note arises. The peat remains oddly calm throughout, including in the finish, where it barely appears. The finish is tart, salty, sweet and tingly, mostly showing that cinnamon candy note.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or > 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose opens up a little bit. There's vanilla and sugary milk chocolate bars. Caramel, flowers, mint chip ice cream and mild wood smoke. The palate, on the other hand, seems to close up. It's sweet and plain. Lightly smoky with some vanilla and pound cake. The generic finish is warm and mild, more toasty than smoky.

This was a particularly disappointing Ballechin. After I added water, I almost dumped some of my pour due to boredom. The rawness of the neat nose has its limited charms, as does the sudden oak attack of the diluted version. The absence of peat is noticeable and unfortunate because it reveals that not much is going on, especially on the palate. Hopefully the next one is better...

Availability - Probably sold out
Pricing - ~€60
Rating - 79