Whisky Advocate

Edradour releases fourth edition of “Ballechin”

October 27th, 2009

Another new product crossed my desk. This one is the fourth edition of the heavily peated Edradour called Ballechin.

Let me throw this out to everyone. What have been your experiences with previous releases? I honestly must admit that I have never reviewed any of these formally and my experiences have been spotty.

Edradour’s Heavily-Peated Highland Single-Malt Whiskey, #4 The Oloroso Sherry Casks

Ballechin 4 frontMT. PLEASANT, SC (October 22, 2009) — Scotland’s Smallest Distillery, Edradour, releases the fourth distillation of Ballechin, The Discovery Series, a program to age scotch whiskey solely in wine casks, instead of the usual bourbon casks. “Since acquiring Edradour distillery in 2002, I have pursued an extensive program of experimentation. Several heavily peated distillations have been produced initially on a very limited scale, and these are being matured in a wide range of wood types. The phenol content of the malt used in production is not less than 50 parts per million,” said Edradour Owner Andrew Symington in July 2009.

The Oloroso Sherry Cask has been matured solely in first fill Oloroso Sherry Butts and produced a total of 6,000 bottles, offered in 70 cl and 750ml. The scotch whiskey is 46% alcohol by volume and is imported by Total Beverage Solution.  Other Ballechin releases include a Burgundy cask matured, a Port cask matured, and a Madeira cask matured.

Scotland’s Highland malts enjoy a unique depth of flavor and quality that’s the result of a fine blend of altitude and mountain water. For many connoisseurs, with its exquisitely smooth and creamy texture, with just a hint of smokiness, Edradour is the jewel in the Highland crown. For more information on Edradour and other TBS brands, log onto to download a media kit.

Edradour is the smallest whiskey distillery in Scotland and the last original ‘farm’ distillery in Perthshire, nestled in a glen in the hills above Pitlochry in the Southern Highlands; possibly the smallest legal distillery of any kind in the world. John Reid and his two assistants hand-craft Edradour without automation, using skills handed down through generations. For centuries the people of Edradour and other remote regions enjoyed malt whisky making as a natural by-product of farming life. The natural ingredients of barley, pure water, and peat have been available in Scotland in abundance since time immemorial. At a weekly output of a mere 600 gallons – enough to fill twelve casks – what Edradour makes in a year, a typical Speyside distillery would produce in a week. Only the finest spirit is laid down by Reid into hand-selected oak casks for the ten year long wait before it can take the name of Edradour. During the aging process the whisky is regularly monitored with the same care and attention that it took to produce it. It is a small wonder, then, that Edradour can be a little hard to track down, making it a rare pleasure for a fortunate few. Edradour is currently exported to France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Russia, USA, Japan, South Africa, Taiwan and New Zealand.

20 Responses to “Edradour releases fourth edition of “Ballechin””

  1. Does the release really spell it “Whiskey”?

  2. John Hansell says:

    It looks that way, Jon. I didn’t alter it. A faux pas there.

  3. Whisky Party says:

    I quite like the Madeira version. I’m a big peat fan, so I like that big hit of phenols and smoke up front. The Madeira slowly creeps out from behind, adding complexity, and the finish is pretty long.

    Very enjoyable in my book. I wrote up some tasting notes on it from a recent Edradour/Signatory Tasting here:

  4. Whisky Party says:

    I should add that I also got a sneak taste of this Olorosso version at the tasting, but couldn’t tell much of a difference between this and the Madeira expression.

    Take that with a grain of salt because this was after tasting 10 other whiskies. It would be interesting to do a side by side of all four expressions.

    I’ve heard rumors that the Port expression is somewhat different – and not in a good way.

  5. Maybe not a faux pas Jo(h)n; TBS’ PR folks might have been following one of many media outlets’ style guide, which likely doesn’t distinguish whisky from whiskey.

    Changes in the media happen slowly — if you remember the NY Times only changed its style guide this year to differentiate whisky from whiskey.

  6. Tim B says:

    I agree with Whisky Party. I’m a big fan of the Madeira version as well. That said, I didn’t care for the first release much at all. So maybe “spotty” is applicable, albeit a pretty weak conclusion with only two data points.

    I have a bottle of the 3rd edition, but have not opened it yet. Any thoughts on that one?

  7. Duncan Ross says:

    This is by far the best of the 4 Ballechin to date, we know that the standard Edradour works well with sherry and this heavily peated cousin is no exception, still pricey for its age though..

  8. Re: two-bit’s comment. I see your point. I understand tradition, your funk and wagnalls, etc. But– THE FRICKIN BALLECHIN LABEL IS RIGHT THERE!

  9. Whisky Party says:

    Duncan is right – very high prices and the Madeira Cask is only a 5 year old.

  10. WHISKYhost says:

    I tasted the 3rd & 4th releases side by side at Loch Fyne Whiskies. I did not like the 3rd but I liked the 4th so much I bought a bottle of it. The Edradour holds the peat very well and the sweet sherry makes for an excellent foil.

  11. Red_Arremer says:

    Just like everyone else here, I picked up a bottle of the # 2 Madeira cask. The hype about young heavily peated whiskies was just starting to kick into high gear and I couldn’t find a bottle of PC5 anywhere. It was a pretty crazy whisky. Very smoky, ashy and intense with a mouth-puckering rubbery note, slight soap, and some bacon. Eventually, I kind of got into it though. It may have had a pretty deformed profile, but it had a real lot more individuality than the likes of Supernova and Octomore

    Actually, since then, I’ve heard very good things about the #1 from reviewers and enthusiasts and bad things about the #2.

    I’d love to get a taste of the 4.

  12. @ Jonathan Goldstein

    I’m with you. My journalism professors hated me for the same point you made. We don’t need to convince each other, but rather the PR folks need to educate the media instead of caving in to their style guides.

    I just want to drink the whisky.

  13. John Hansell says:

    I should be getting a review sample of this fourth release and am really excited to try it. I’ll let you know my thoughts when I do.

    Thanks everyone for posting up your thoughts on this new release and the older release too!

  14. […] Hansell is looking for reader opinions on the Edradour Ballechin […]

  15. PeteR says:

    I have the first 3 releases. Like the Burgundy and Madeira finishes the best, but the Port finish is good also. Look forward to getting this one too.

  16. Red_Arremer says:

    PereR @ 14, so you’re someone who owns and likes both of the first two releases.. I’ve been thinking for a while about trying to get a hold of #1, but keep reading about all this disagreement: people who like #1 don’t like #2 and vice versa.. I owned #2 and was somewhat fascinated and pleased by it so I’ve been conflicted– will I not like #1, then? Anyways, how would you compare and contrast them to one and other?

  17. Ed Kohl says:

    Can’t Spell WHISKY??!! This is what happens when “the Kidz” don’t pay attention in Class–Off to Detention for the lot of them!!
    Bellechin- A Whisky Sensation for every taste!

  18. Val Z says:

    #1 is not good, but #3 is…. is #4 better than #2? is it too expensive? Guys, these young Ballechin expressions are not going to last forever, there are only going to be a few more special releases like that in the future. Wouldn’t you like to have the whole range of it and then, some day taste it side by side?!

  19. elizabeth moore says:

    Indeed correct on both fronts with respect to the spelling; however quite frankly, this is a damned if you do – damned if you don’t situation.

    The press release is written for the press, and inasmuch is following the AP Style.

    J.G. — looks like you and I are the same age, have similar backgrounds, and respect tradition. You, however, are a writer by trade — seen a style guide lately? You are correct that the label was right there — but, the editors went with the book. Next time, we will go the other way and be sure to let you know how it turns out (imagine the response we had on discussing Pappy in the press).

  20. […] “Ballechin (#4)”, 46%, $100 I first wrote about this whisky here last fall. It’s the fourth release of peated Edradour single malt Scotch whisky. This time, […]

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