Over to Edradour for a welcome visit to the distillery’s peated output – Ballechin. This one has spent 14 years in a refill sherry hogshead before being bottled at 55% ABV.
Nose: Sticky toffee pudding and maple syrup is joined by chocolate ganache and honeycomb which has spent just a little too long on the hob. Air-dried serrano ham and poached plums sit with burnt toffee, ginger and nutmeg spicing and thickly applied wood lacquer. Smoke runs throughout – sweet peat with a scorched and charred fruit-forward characteristic. Reduction reveals orange peels and marmalade alongside golden syrup.
Taste: Oily and greasy. An oak burning stove inside a felt-roofed potting shed where the owner is frying bacon lardons whilst making a supply of jams and preserves. Chilli chocolate joins leaf mulch whilst increasing ashiness sits with polished oak and a pot of creosote. The addition of water quickly softens things up – golden syrup and ginger cake – it also expresses more of the cask with dry, lingering oakiness.
Finish: Quite long with baking spices and persistent sweet, vegetal peat smoke.
Sponge’s sherried Ballechin is not quite as wild as some), but nevertheless it presents both an enjoyable foray into Edradour’s heavily peated alter ego – and further insight into how this idiosyncratic spirit is starting to develop into something well worth keeping on your radar. Here the robust, but not overbearing, sherry cask combines nicely with impactful peat smoke resulting in a sweet exuberance. Fun whisky. There’s always a time and a place for that.