Finally an opportunity to get a grip on Ballechin and give the peated spirit from Edradour an honest chance! This is a bottling by the Swedish Whisky Society (SWF) where whisky society members all over the country have been able to get a hold of a bottle or two. This is exactly what my mum and dad have done which I have shamelessly used to my advantage.
2004 Ballechin Burgundy Matured SWF, 52,5 %
General facts: This is a special edition where the whisky have been matured on three Burgundy wine casks for twelve years, all first fill and with the cask numbers 17, 18 and 19. The whisky was distilled on the 20th of January 2004 and bottled on the 1st of April (no joke!) in 2016. The bottle I stole my sample from (sorry, mum and dad!) has the number 770 out of 905 and the whisky is neither chill-filtered nor artificially coloured. In addition it’s bottled at the very healthy ABV of 52,5 %.
Colour: red amber
Nose: Oh really, a berry one – how fun! A wave of red currants, strawberries and raspberry lemonade hits my nose at the first whiff. Here is also rubberm some old leather and – hardly surprising – a whole lot of peat. Ah, a dash of white pepper and smoked sausage is noticeable too, and after that the red berries return with some lingonberry. Interesting! With some water the nose becomes a bit more stuffy, or perhaps fatty, in a way and I mean this in a positive sense.
Taste: Okay, it doesn’t taste at all as I had expected! A substantial amount of burnt, grilled meat (just like the previous Ballechin, which is interesting), burnt toast, motor oil and the taste is definitely more punchy, almost severe, than the nose. The rubber tone is much more prominent in the taste than the nose and is now almost sour in a way, and the berries have been forced to the backseat. Some salty licorice and salmiak pops up and after a few drops of water the peat becomes even more dominant, the rubber less sour and a certain oaky bitterness is noticeable.
Finish: The aftertaste also consists of that burnt, almost bitter note and the smokes sausage from the nose returns. With water the salmiak licorice is senses also in the finish and the finish itself becomes somewhat richer, but other than that less changes. The finish ends with some more white pepper and a hint of salt, and is fairly long.
This is a whisky I can’t seem to wrap my head around. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s a good dram, it’s just that it isn’t wow. It’s as if the nose makes more promises than it can keep, which is in a way unfair since I really enjoyed the nose. The thing is that I like the odd, burnt notes together with the peat but miss the berries from the nose. I also found the somewhat sour rubber note a bit hard to digest but after some water the rubber note becomes much more pleasant. If I could somehow magically change something about this whisky it would probably be to tone down the aggressive flavours and elevate the softer, rounder ones but . this whisky is at the same time a pretty unique dram flavour-wise. In the end it leaves me feeling a bit torn – on the one hand I would really like to taste it again and again to try and make sense of it, but on the other hand it’s not a whisky I would choose to enjoy a quiet Friday evening. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s good but I miss the wow.