When the Whisky Barrel sent wee parcel of the samples containing their latest releases, the initial reaction wasn’t one of influencer joy or fanfare. In my turbulent mind, I see these influencer individuals all nicely presented and toned, stroking their egos – and beards – in the nearest full-sized mirror religiously. Punching the air with authority when a sample to promote lands at their door.
No dear reader, my natural reaction was simply oh I haven’t written about Eradour in a while. This welcome box shipped from the Kingdom of Fife to elsewhere within the Kingdom is a mere gateway to new experiences and discoveries. The downside is that it also contains their latest mystery Orkney whisky. Yes, another piece about the distillery, which is protecting its brand heavily. For about the 20th time this year, I’ll have to virtually visit Orkney and the horned hat brigade.
That adventure is for another day thankfully. Right now, we’re visiting one of Scotland’s most picturesque distilleries. Only Tormore springs to mind as being superior. And it isn’t just an Edradour, but an exclusive cask of Ballechin which is their heavily peated malt homage to a former nearby distillery. This along with Edradour was one of seven farm distilleries operating in the early 1800’s. An era before legislation really took a grip and formed the first version of the Scotch whisky industry that we know today.
Prior to this, it was more of on a need to know basis i.e. you needed whisky and where to purchase some contraband. Illegal distilling was rampant across Scotland, as we do love a wee drink and life was tough in the 1700’s and 1800’s. A dram was an essential component to smooth the bumpy road of life, or at least make it digestible. The whisky itself was of variable quality and excise officers struggled to keep a sense of order. Famers often turned to distilling as they had the land and access to the natural resources. Many became quite proficient at creating a sellable commodity alongside avoiding detection.
Many distilleries started life as a farm enterprise before going legit. For Ballechin, it was in existence for just over a century and before closing for good in 1927. This was a common occurrence across Scotland with economic forces affecting demand and the consolidation of distilleries into larger corporations. A small farm distillery was not a viable concern during this period and sadly when Ballechin’s primary water source was diverted that brought an end to distilling. Of the seven distilleries in Perthshire, only Edradour survives and prospers to this day. Partially because if you’ve tried to find it by car and satellite navigation, you’ll realise how hidden it is from prying eyes. The excise representatives stood little chance in comparison.
This 12 year old was distilled in 2005 and resided in a refill sherry hogshead #160 for the duration before being bottled in July 2018. It is un-chillfiltered and natural colour, resulting in 291 bottles at a mighty 61.5% strength. A bottle of this Ballechin will set you back £79.96.
The Whisky Barrel Edradour Ballechin 2005 – review
Colour: Candied orange.
On the nose: A surprisingly layer of coastal peat. Yes, there’s the earthiness and floral aspect but a degree of sea spray and brine. Cinder toffee and toffee apples alongside hotdogs! Not those fancy Michelin starred versions I had to endure with Adam and Mark recently. Rather the good old tinned variety. Sunflower oil, bacon fat and a smokey residue. Dried bark, worn rubber, cranberries, beef stock and apricots. Water reveals cherries and rhubarb.
In the mouth: boom! No prisoners here and delightfully so with a chewy texture. Big funky autumnal peat notes with baked apples and more coastal peat. Spent fireworks, toffee, roasted walnuts and smoked bacon. Chocolate gingers, Shiitake mushrooms, treacle and a fatty feel. The addition of water reveals brown sugar and cocoa.
Great fun and retrospectively, a good balance between the Ballechin new make and a very active sherry hogshead. Plenty to enjoy here and with some subtle elements. There is a coastal slant to the peat that comes as a surprise. I’d like to stick this bottle down amongst a bunch of Islay peatheads and watch their reaction. No one would ever guess it comes from wee Edradour.