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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Ballechin 17 year old 2004 WhiskySponge, The Spongetopia Trilogy 36A

I miss WhiskySponge's once-regular posts, but he appears to be doing well for himself, in business bottling casks, as well as contributing to the whisky review site that decides if whiskies live or die, a site that may want to consider not reviewing Sponge bottlings in the future, just to keep things "fun".

Recently, The Sponge was allowed to raid Andrew Symington's warehouses for three teenage Ballechins in order to assemble The Spongetopia Trilogy. 36A was a bourbon barrel, 36B was a fino butt, and 36C a sherry hoggie. After indulging in a bottle split of each, I begin with 'A'.

Distillery: Edradour
Malt: Ballechin
Ownership: Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co., Ltd.
Bottler: WhiskySponge
Region: Highlands (Central)
Age: 17 years (2004 - 2021)
Maturation: 1st fill bourbon barrel
Outturn: 188 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 53.7%
(from a bottle split)


Nose - A spirit-forward Ballechin! It's big on the seaweed peat, like a muscular Bowmore. Apricots, roses, lemon tarts and coal roll through the background. It reads like a leaner Islay once it is reduced to 46%abv, with wet coastal stones, kiln, hay and smoked salmon.

Palate - Toasty in its early sips, the whisky gradually gathers fresh apricots, raw walnuts and coal. Metal, molasses and Underberg linger in the back. Diluted to 46%abv, it gets sweeter while also picking up more herbal bitterness, with quieter notes of roses and chile oil around the edges.

Finish - Lemon, coal smoke and a touch of bitterness. At 46%abv, it ends with coal smoke, smoked almonds and metal.


The nose wins here, even though I dig the reserved palate. My written notes throw around a lot of Islay distillery references that even I got tired of reading. To summarize, this Ballechin sits somewhere between Bowmore and Lagavulin in style. While that's some good company to keep, I'm not sure if this could actually compete with bourbon cask teenage versions of those sluggers. It's pretty good though, and I always appreciate an absence of splinters.

Availability - Probably sold out within seconds
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86