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Ballechin Madeira Matured

Average score from 3 reviews and 3 ratings 86

Ballechin Madeira Matured

Product details

  • Brand: Ballechin
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • Series: The Discovery Series
  • ABV: 46.0%
  • Bottles: 5100

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Ballechin is the name of a former distillery (1810-1927) that could be found about 4 miles south of where Edradour is today. When Andrew Symington started his peated runs in 2003, he did not have to look further for a good name. As soon as the producted was legally whisky, the first Ballechin hit the market. Batch 1 matured on Burgundy wine casks, this second batch from 2007 on Madeira and so forth. Let us give that a try.

The nose is immediately farmy. Think cow stable. The peat is soft and nicely interwoven in the grassy notes (hay, straw and dried dandelions) with a drop of cod oil. Reminds me a bit of Ledaig (which is fine, for I quite love Ledaig, the peated Tobermory). The wine, however discreet, takes care of a fruity side that takes some work to discover. But it pays to try.

On the palate, the cod oil returns with a vengeance. Oily and salty. Sounds not as good as it tastes. Nice smokiness, not too big, not dominant. There is enough room for all kinds of sweetness and spices. Liquorice. Still farmy and grassy (think oats) with a salty edge. Soot? Yes, this is quite good indeed!

The finish is fairly long with a mildly bitter but spicy finale. Think walnuts and paprika.

Andrew may not like to hear this, but his best Edradour is the peated version! And such a young animal too. Let us not forget that this Ballechin is only 4 years old! Thanks to the Green Man from Ostend for the sample. What a discovery.

Thanks for all the Ballechin reviews! Aside from the cask strength sample you tried, which of the "Discovery" series bottles would you want to own? I have only tried this Madeira and am keen to try another.

I tried the Bourbon Cask Matured variant, and quite liked it (posted a review a couple of days ago) - I look forward to hopefully trying more!


I don’t love reviewing samples, but I love getting them. Is there a value sample reviews? Sure. But I think it is only a two-dimensional snap shot of a whisky whereas a bottle review is more like a three-dimensional theatrical performance. Can the picture tell me if I will like the play? Possibly. Maybe more often then not. But, then sometimes you can really get the wrong impression. Or your nose is off, or you are not dialed in to the mood of the whisky. Is there a better analogy? Absolutely, I just can’t think of one right now.

I would like to try and only review whiskies I have tasted on a number of occasions. However, that is often financially prohibitive, and downright limiting – there is, actually, only so much whisky one can consume. In this case my wife bought me a tasting sample from Master of Malt (wonderfully thoughtful lady). In the tasting sampler was this whisky. I knew nothing about it other then it was peated Edradour. So I came to it with minimal expectations.

Nose: Curious peat on the front. It is a real earthy and dirty peat. If I didn’t know better I would swear it was Laphroiag. Very strong earthy peat. Behind the peat you get a bit of that sour wine thing. It reminds me a bit of Brora with a bit of that “farmy” smell – truly wonderful that. On comparing it to my Laphroaig 10yo I find the peat to be at the same level of intensity. However, the wine finish brings the sweet and sour notes up a tad on the Bellechin. I am really taken with this nose. Twigs, hay, and parts of Grandpa’s barn (but different parts then BenRiach 10yo Curiositas, or Brora). There is this “tone” that reminds me of Brora’s mustard and wet animals. This nose is hard to place . . . and I really like it.

Taste: Sweet . . . very sweet. It is like sweet dessert wine and scotch. Now some mustard and other acrid things. After time it turns to salt on the tongue.

Finish: This is not a peat explosion. Rather, it is a series of big waves of peat . . . one, two, three, four . . . all rolling in like the tide. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

Complexity, Balance: Very complex and beguiling on the nose. Not so complex on the tongue (but still beguiling). It is a good balance of that “farmy” characteristic across the range. I love the integration of sour, bitter, and sweet. And then the peat is just a joy.

Aesthetic experience: I disliked the name . . . at first. But it is growing on me. I love that the guy making it worked at Laphroaig. I expect great things in the future. I like the ncf and 46%. I also like that they are full maturing the whiskies in these casks (not finishing) which I find refreshing.

Conclusion: I love Brora – really the farmy type Broras. It is my mission to find a substitute for this farmy type whisky. So far BenRaich 10yo Curiositas (certain batches – not all) are the closest poor-man's-substitute I have found. This Ballechin is a new contender. I actually really want to own a bottle of this to see if my impression is correct. For my personal rating system this earns a 25.5 which mathematically translates to about 89 on a 100 point scale. In my book this is a definite “buy a bottle.” It earns a second and third look. Now, here are the problems – price and availability. I believe they are only making around 6,000 bottles of each new release. That is nothing compared to the current Ardbeg special releases. And these usually sell for around $100 (62 Pounds)– which is a lot for young whisky - which this is. I am not quite sure what Edradour is doing. I believe they are on their 8th expression in this “discovery series,” and you don’t hear too much about them. It sounds like next year they are going to release a 10yo Ballechin which will be their standard expression going forward. Based on my sample of this bottle I will buy a bottle of that 10yo. We will see if I manage to snag any of the other oddities. That said, this score for me says I am willing to gamble $100 on this expression. The nose in particular really intrigued me.

Like you, Nock, I'm always interested in finding scotches that match some of the basic profile characteristics of the "farmy" Broras.

I tried to find the Ballechin Madeira, but alas it is nearly all gone in the US. Thanks for the reviews. They are very helpful.

Thank you for the kind words. I am glad you find it helpful. So far the first few batches of Curiositas are the closest thing I have found to a farmy Brora style. And they still are not that close. It is "farmy" but from a different kind of "farm" then Brora. I have hopes for the future with Ballechin, and peated Benromach. I am also looking at the prospect of vatting Clynelish and other peated malts together on my own to see what I can come up with.

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