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Friday, May 31, 2019

Ballechin 11 year old 2007 van Wees The Ultimate, cask 166

The oldest (by ~2 months) of this week's three Ballechin (plural!) and the only sherry cask, today's peated Edradour whisky doesn't have to try too hard to pass the other two. Yes, I write this intro already knowing the outcome, since I tasted this whisky along with Wednesday's Ballechin and Port Charlotte 10 year old.

As mentioned on Wednesday, I haven't been impressed with single bourbon cask Ballechins and will likely never blindly buy a bottle of it again. How about this single sherry cask?

Distillery: Edradour
Malt: Ballechin
Ownership: Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co., Ltd.
Bottler: van Wees (The Ultimate series)
Region: Highlands (Central)
Age: 11 years (2007-2018)
Maturation: 2nd fill sherry butt
Cask #: 166
Outturn: 700
Alcohol by Volume: 59.6%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? No
(from a purchased sample)

Mesquite smoke hangs over every note in the big, hot nose. There are flowers, dried cherries, dried apricots and yeast. Beef and caramel sauce. But mostly mesquite. The palate is very nutty: cashews, almond butter and roasted peanuts. Cherry compote with fresh ginger (is that a thing?). What starts out as a moderate level of peat smoke increases with time. Cherries, almonds, salty cashews and peat smoke in the finish.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Now it's a peat bomb. Peat peat peat on the nose. Yeast, fudge, cinnamon and cloves. It's almost a peated rye. Compared to the nose, the peat is more vegetal and less smoky in the palate. Some of the nutty note remains, mostly as marzipan. Some dried oregano and a sooty moment. The finish feels like the dingiest part, all soot and smoked nuts.

This week's winner! It's also, possibly, the best single cask (out of six) of Ballechin I've tried. The active cask doesn't choke out the spirit, though the spirit sings louder when the whisky is diluted. Normally nutty whiskies aren't my thing, but the smoke and fruit make it work. And dilution also gives it a bit of the dirty edge I've been looking for in this week's trio.

Though the Port Charlotte 10 came out on top in the overall tasting, I still prefer this Ballechin over the official sherried/winey things Bowmore and Laphroaig are squeezing out. I'm not as sold on Ballechin as I'd hoped to be, but there's still hope for this stuff.

Availability - May still be available at some continental European retailers
Pricing - around €70 w/VAT
Rating - 86