A second turn round the merry-go-round of combining Edradour with Ballechin. This edition takes a 2005 Edradour and a 2005 Ballechin that have both been matured in 2nd fill sherry hogsheads for 16 years and smushes them together with a reduction in ABV to 55%. Available from Decadent Drinks for £165 (again discounted by 20% at present).
Nose: Chilli chocolate, salami and Serrano ham sits with plums and scattered berries whilst aromatic Latakia pipe tobacco wisps around lacquered oak panelling that envelopes a gentle, slightly distant log fire that’s at least two rooms away. Water reveals red and black berry cordial and sticky toffee pudding. But there’s a muted wet earthiness abound that takes much of the definition away from elsewhere. Better at the offered bottling strength.
Taste: Sweet, peat and meat. Cranberry jus is served with burnt ends and herby roast potatoes whilst plump raisins joins prunes stepped in black tea. Liquorice, chocolate and tobacco leaves are smoked with hot coals and garden firepits whilst mentholated oak perks into the back palate. Reduction favours the cask with acrid smoke, char and touches of mint chocolate.
Finish: Long in length and offering dark sugars and dark woods lifted by cooling menthol and air dried kiln logs just starting to kindle.
Balance has certainly been achieved here. To a point where I found that any further dilution in ABV below 55% offered immediate diminishing returns – losing both structure and coherence. And that’s rather the rub when combining disparate casks – even if a successful marriage is possible, it’s highly unlikely that the union will last the course without some rectification of the strength. A job well done here in terms of equilibrium - but equally the price is pushing it for me. The 20% ‘spring discount’ currently on offer via the Decadent Drinks website certainly helps though.