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

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
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.

Sip:
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.

Swallow:
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.

87/100


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

Sniff:
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?

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

Swallow:
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).

88/100

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About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm a web developer at Emakina. I'm highly interested in booze, with a focus on whisk(e)y. I like to listen to loads of music and read quite some books. I'm married to Anneke, have a daughter Ot, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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