Tag Archives: 2005

Ballechin 2005 ‘Straight from the Cask’ Bordeaux Cask 11-year-old

Bought: Master of Malt, 2nd August 2017

87.75/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

According to Whiskybase there haven’t been many distilleries to mature or finish whisky in Bordeaux casks. Arran, Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch have done a small handful but Edradour are the experts when it comes to using wood from this illustrious French wine region. The small Pitlochry distillery, owned by Signatory, produced 25 Bordeaux cask releases since 2005. 20 of these were their unpeated ‘Edradour’ range but in 2017 they added 5 variations of their peated ‘Ballechin’. All 5 were from single casks, amounting to just over 400 50cl bottles per cask, and gradually released through 2017 as part of the ‘Straight from the Cask’ series.

Peat and French wine? Really? It’s fair to say that in the early days it didn’t always work but since 2012 none of the Edradour Bordeaux releases have scored less than 82/100 on Whiskybase. Of the 5 ‘Ballechin’ bottlings produced this year, 3 are rated and mine is fractionally the lowest with a fantastic 87.75/100. Bottled ‘straight from the cask’ at a natural strength of 55.7%, all 407 bottles of this 11yo quickly sold out. I’m glad I got one and can now tick ‘Ballechin’ off my whisky wishlist.

Note: ‘Bellachin’ is the name of an estate in Perthshire and also the name of a distillery in the same region that operated between 1810 and 1927.

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Salted & pepper crackers, truffle oil, raisins and dried apricot.
Palate: Jammy red fruit notes are up-front and lip-smackingly sweet, with burnt oak and cut grass notes in support.
Finish: BBQ meats with a honey glaze.

Strathclyde 2005 10-year-old Old Particular

Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd August 2016

72/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
86/100 – Whiskybase (average from 10 member votes)

The Strathclyde grain distillery began life in 1927 and is located in Glasgow in the central belt of Scotland. It’s owned by Pernod Ricard, who own numerous single malt distilleries including Glenlivet, Scapa and Aberlour. Strathclyde grain whisky is used in the production of blends such as Ballantine’s and Teacher’s.

Whiskybase members have loaded up the details of 46 different bottlings of Strathclyde but only 2 of those have come from the distillery owners. 44 have been from independent bottlers such as my ‘Old Particular’ by Douglas Laing. Scoring 86/100 from 10 votes is an excellent score. One member who rates it 87/100 kindly leaves these tasting notes:

Nose: Cherry, cranberry, toffee, orange and lemon. The latter gets stronger, bringing that typical freshness of young grains. A small whiff of smoke and later a little tree resin.
Taste: Cranberry, toffee, lemon, orange, spice and a little marshmallow.
Finish: Cherry, toffee and cranberry.

Wow, that’s a lot of fruit flavours, with toffee, spice and a hint of smoke. It seems to me that single grain is a secret pleasure of a minority of whisky drinkers when it should have wider appeal. Good examples are there to be found. I’m beginning to wish I’d bought a 70cl bottle rather than a 3cl sample!

Update – added the score of 72/100 from the new Whisky Bible 2017, which classifies this whisky as “usually drinkable but don’t expect the earth to move”. This is because the author detects some sulphur on the nose and finish but summaries with “some attractive silkiness at least”.

Here’s ‘The Good Dram Show’ on You Tube with their thoughts on this 10yo as part of a review of 6 different bottlings of Strathclyde (November 2016):

Strathclyde 2005 10yo 3cl

Benromach ‘Peat Smoke’ 2005/14

Bought: Whisky Galore, 23rd May 2016

88.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
92/100 – Whisky Bitch (her You Tube review below)
82.7/100 – Whiskybase (average from 55 member votes)

In the Whisky Bible 2016 the author, Jim Murray, gives the 2006 edition of ‘Peat Smoke’ 90.5/100, which is two points ahead of what he thinks of my 2005 bottling. But the good folk of Whiskybase give the 2006 version 82.6/100 (from 50 member votes), which is 0.1 behind the 2005. So make of that what you will, which is probably nothing since there really isn’t anything in it.

88.5/100 classifies this dram as “excellent whisky definitely worth buying” and Jim Murray says of the taste “light oils and slightly over sugared barley. The smoke, surprisingly, takes a bit of a back seat while gentle oak calm the over zealous maple syrup; a fair chunk of marmalade in there”. A comment on Whiskybase is “a fantastic combination of sweet fruit explosions, big smoke and loads of earthy peat.”

This version of ‘Peat Smoke’ has a 67ppm rating, which is ‘parts per million’ relating to the phenol level, not ‘pancakes per minute’ like I first thought. The 2006 edition is 62ppm so a slight step down in terms of peatiness but I doubt anyone will notice. My phenol receptors aren’t that finely tuned. Jim Murray says of the 2006 bottling “a more measured malt than the previous vintage” but that’s very much his opinion.

Here’s the Whisky Bitch with her review of the 2004 version of ‘Peat Smoke’ (June 2014):

Benromach Peat Smoke 2005 NAS 20cl

Pittyvaich 1993 Connoisseurs Choice

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 24th February 2015

Bottled 2005 (left) – 77.4/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)
Bottled 2009 (right) – 79.83/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)

I’ve complained before about Gordon & MacPhail miniatures not having the same information on them as their bigger counterparts. I didn’t hold out much hope of matching a review against either of my minis of Pittyvaich until I saw “Bottle Code JE/AAB” on Whiskybase. I thought it looked familiar, so I examined both my bottles. Sure enough, looking through from the back, I could see “JE/AAB” printed on the reverse of the front label. This means one of my bottles (left in the picture below) was the first ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ release in 2005. Distilled in 1993, this whisky is 12 years old. Scoring 77.4/100 on Whiskybase isn’t brilliant with comments of “light and unimpressive” but also “a bit unusual (in a good way)”.

My second bottle from the closed Pittyvaich distillery (pictured right) has the new style label that first appeared in 2009 on a 16yo release of ‘Connoisseurs Choice’. My bottle has the code “JI/AABB” on the reverse of the front label but unfortunately this information isn’t given on Whiskybase, so the rating is a bit of a guess. I’m basing it mainly on the colour of the whisky, since the 2011 release is darker amber. Although scoring better than the 2005 release, a comment summarises this whisky with “winey aperitif style whisky. Not very well balanced.”

Having bought these bottles from an online auction, I had no idea I was getting a 12yo and a 16yo. Either I will do a taste comparison, or keep them as an investment. Pittyvaich distillery closed in 1993 so even miniature examples will be increasing in value.

Pittyvaich 1993 5cl x2

Macduff 2005 (Carn Mor c.4-year-old)

Bought – C Gar Ltd, 22nd October 2013

62.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

This Macduff is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 2005 and bottled in 2009, it’s from a limited edition of 1563, Cask No: 23. Non-chill filtered,  no added colour and 46%.

This is my 11th and final bottle I’ll be getting from the Carn Mor collection. I was never intending to get all 24. The bottles I have give me a good range of ages and distilleries. The main reason for buying them was to further my collection of distillery examples at the best price possible. 20cl bottles are very handy because they’re a lot cheaper than full bottles and last longer than miniatures. My only complaint is that these quarter bottles seem hard to find. More distilleries should be doing them in my opinion.

This wont be my final bottle from Macduff. The distillery’s flagship malt is the Glen Deveron and the 10yo gets 86/100 in the Whisky Bible 2013. The review goes on to say that it would score in the low 90s if it was 46% and lost the addition of caramel. Perhaps if it ever does that’s the day I’ll buy a bottle. It’s on my wishlist for the future!

Macduff 2005 Carn Mor 20cl