BTC #4 and #5: Ballechin and Glenfiddich

Yesterday I didn’t get around to a write up of the Blind Tasting Competition’s fourth sample, so today you’re in for a double whammy. As always with this kind of thing, there’s not much to talk about since we’re going in blind!

Sample #4: Ballechin 2004-2016, 12yo, Manzanilla Cask, 55.6% – OB for Kirsch Whisky


Image from Whiskybase

There’s a lot of sherry on the nose, but also a lot of peat and smoke. I am getting some hay and red fruit, and dates. Also, there’s quite some saltiness and I even think I get a whiff of kippers.

The palate is sharp and intense. Quite young with grassy notes and oak. Coconut husks, dates and fish. Even the more harbor-like flavors of tar and rope and salt water. All in all, there’s a lot going on.

The finish is hot and dry, not too surprising with this kind of sherry cask. Really peated whisky, with the salty, ropy notes again.

I was convinced this must be some kind of Ardbeg. I’ve had some SMWS Ardbegs in the not-too-distant past and these were quite similar to this, with the grass, salt and sherry in a similar way. I was quite surprised to find out it was a Ballechin.

The surprise came from two reasons. A: There are Ballechin whiskies out there I like, apparently. B: This didn’t really give me any ‘highland whisky’ tells. Especially the salinity and brininess on the finish and palate made me think of Islay before anything else.


Sample #5: Glenfiddich 15yo, Batch 43, 55.6% – Handfilled at the Distillery

hertOn the nose I got vanilla at first, but not just vanilla. There’s oak, barley and chocolate as well. Slightly sweet with some caramel notes, quite a lot of oak and some spices. Refill sherry?

The palate is quite gentle (guessing some 48-50%). Sweet caramel and some popcorn, and again some vanilla. Lots of oak with baking spices.

The finish is quite rich with the same flavors as before. Rather classical. Some wood spices and a light sweet caramel.

It’s a bit of a jumble, regarding the flavors I’m getting. One bit says American oak, while the baking spices make me go towards European oak. Maybe it’s a bit of an American oak sherry cask. Or at least, that was my thinking.

It turned out to be a Glenfiddich from some kind of Solera cask, which could still mean anything towards the wood used. I only got some points for being ‘only’ three years off in age, but that was it.

However, I was rather positively surprised by this whisky. It’s a bit of a jumble, but an interesting chaos, so to say. My guess was that this was a Hazelburn, by the way. It reminded me of the 12 year old (maybe erroneously, it’s been years).



About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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