The flip side of TWE’s Edradour double-act is this 14 year old Ballechin – matured since August 2005 in a second fill sherry hogshead (#158). Bottled in August last year and producing 296 bottles – these are available from The Whisky Exchange for £94.95.
Nose: Sack cloth, hessian and old plasterers sheeting present a fabric-forward opening, before clays, putties and shingle offer an alluvial counterpoint. Running throughout – metholated fruits – blackberry eucalyptus and Halls Cherry – set against a dry dainty smoke that presents someway between burnt paper and unwound electrical tape. As you do. The addition of water provides a left-field excursion – ozone, leaf mulch and cider vinegar alongside a swipe of antiseptic cream.
Taste: Immediate syrupy fruits with icing sugar-dusted raspberries and cherry and blackberry preserve. Blackjack chews offer aniseed whilst more mentholated couth sweets provide a medicinal freshness. At the heart of the whisky is an oily/creamy core – akin to a smoked smooth, chocolate creama. Bringing up the rear – a packet of XXX mints. Reduction expresses cherry cordial alongside herbal notes of fir cones and rosemary, with a creamy centre of mint buttercream.
Finish: Medium to long with dried grasses and reeds alongside sticky sweet fruits and minty freshness.
The Whisky Exchange’s Ballechin 2005 is an agreeable journey through a diverse selection of aromas and flavours – some powerful, some just passing motes – but there’s certainly a preponderance throughout for minty sherry. It drinks well both at bottling strength and when brought down with a touch a water – not losing its structure but gaining more vegetalness at the same time. However, to my palate the straddle across leafy/mintiness and syrupy sherry is not always as tuneful as I’d like – and personally I’d rather this whisky chose one of those two directions and stuck to it.