Sunday, 14 October 2012

Old Ballantruan Tweet Tasting

A rather special Tweet Tasting organised by Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire and Tomintoul Distillery to launch the rare peated Speyside Single Malt, Old Ballantruan 10 Year Old Single Malt. Alongside Steve was Master Distiller Robert Fleming from the Tomintoul Distillery.

Old Ballantruan is made in the Tomintoul Distillery within part of the most famous Scotch whisky producing region, “Speyside Glenlivet” using peated malt barley. It's unusual to find a heavily peated malt whisky from Speyside. The Old Ballantruan whiskies contain the smoky phenolic notes that are associated with Islay malts while in the background are sweet notes that characterise the Speyside region.

Old Ballantruan is made using heavily-peated malt barley with a total phenol content of 55 ppm (parts per million). This sits at about the same level as some of the peatiest Islay malts, whereas the most delicately peated malts may have a ppm content of as low as 2 or 3.

The tasting samples came beautifully packaged, with the two bottles nestling in a bed of hay within the 'Old Ballantruan' marked box, which had been carefully tied with string.

So promptly at seven o'clock, Steve and Robert kicked of the evenings educational entertainment. These two whiskies certainly qualified as new whisky discoveries for me and from the pre-tasting banter on Twitter, Old Ballantruan was a new experience for many of the tasting panel.

Ready for the Tweet Tasting kick-off
Whisky Discovery #214

Old Ballantruan NAS (50% abv)
Speyside Glenlivet Peated Single Malt Whisky
circa £32.50 70cl

The Original' Old Ballantruan'
For our first dram of the evening we started with the standard Old Ballantruan, a no age statement whisky, that has been around for just over ten years being first produced in 2001 as an experiment at the Tomintoul Distillery. 

It is bottled at roughly five or six years of age from a mixture of  refill hogsheads and refill barrels, at 50% abv without any chill-filtration.

Robert told us that the peat used not sourced near the sea hence more burnt wood notes than medicinal notes would be expected

So what did I think?

On the nose I was getting stable straw/hay, musty peat, fresh firm strawberries, there was a light BBQ smokiness and sweet caramel toffee drifting in and out. With a drop of water the strawberries ripen!

On the palate it was smooth and peppery, but not overly so. There was a sweet smokiness, orange peel and charcoal notes. There's an immediate pepper blast on the long finish which turns salty with an earthy peat taste with cumulates in a coffee bitterness.

Some of my favourite tweets for Old Ballantruan:

@whiskyrepublic Pungent, thick, overripe bananas
‏@WhiskyTasting The smell of a big damp warehouse or cricket store at the end of winter... 
@TIA568B Strong peat notes, cereal malty character, I think there's a bit of creaminess in there some where, quite meaty - BBQ and some hay
‏@LRWhisky It is very sweet and smoky, almost like burnt damp wood with heather on 
@RMWEdinburgh Good nose! Plenty of sweet cream and smoky peat but what really hits is strawberry yoghurt
@KirstyPryde1 Peatier then I expected, very smooth, very little burn, soft vanilla, caramelly sweetness 

Whisky Discovery #215

Old Ballantruan 10 Year Old (50% abv)
Speyside Peated Single Malt Whisky
circa £46.00 70cl

The new 10 Year Old
We then moved on to the headline dram of the evening, and tasted the recently released 10 year old. Again this has been matured in selected oak casks and bottled at 50% abv without chill-filtration in order to maintain it's layered and integrated peaty flavours.

Robert informed us that Faemussach peat is used for the 10 Year Old with malt kilned in Kirkcaldy. The same cask types are used, refill hogsheads and barrels, but the longer maturation mellows the peat slightly. 

Official Tasting Notes:
Colour: Rich gold
Nose: Gently spicy with smoky “peat-reek” deliciously balanced by a sweeter creamy core 
Palate: Some gentle peaty smokiness equipoised with a sweet, creamy, malty backbone
Finish: Climbing finish of sweetness gradually replaced with smoky depth

So what did I think?

It's amazing what the extra years in the casks has done to this peated spirit. This was much lighter on the nose with lemon notes almost floral and very delicate.

On the palate I was getting creamy lemon cheesecake  complete with the malty digestive biscuits. There was light peppery kick at the very end, with the smokiness of the peated spirit only coming through in the finish.

I went back to the remainder of my sample a few days later. Again I poured both drams and decoded I should nose the 10 Year Old first this time. The peated whisky is more evident second time around and without the Original dominating my senses first. It is still much more delicate that the Original and I'm still getting the lemon cheesecake, but the gentle peat-reek is definitely there now, drifting across the vanilla and creamy core.

Some of my favourite tweets for Old Ballantruan 10 Year Old:

@WhiskyTasting Golly this is totally different. Drier, more Autumnal, far less coastal. This could go either way
@the_josephellis I'm getting smoked mangoes on the nose!! Do smoked mangoes even 
@MasterOfMaltAM softer and sweeter definitely, i'm getting some stem ginger also, with some bread on the side
‏@KirstyPryde1 autumn leaves, on a crisp day, toffee apples and damp, peat and horses breath 

‏@ifotou Nose sweet and mellow a little white wine like, more hay and wheat some smoked campfire smells mixed with fleshy fruits
@themisswhisky On palate: white grape juice, buttered toast, cardboard from cereal box, @TIA568B Really creamy lemon curd, delicate sweetness, homemade shortbread (corners), saltiness still there, but died down almost baking soda 

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #OB10TT hashtag on twitter for the full story!

Yet another great experience and another highlight of my whisky journey, registering a fabulous four new ‘discoveries’ A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire and to Robert Fleming and everyone at the Tomintoul Distillery @TomintoulWhisky

This events tweet tasters were: @TheWhiskyWire @TheMissWhisky @MasterOfMaltAM @WhiskyDiscovery @ifotou @rodbodtoo @LRWhisky @WhiskyRepublic @theWhiskyReview @WhiskyTasting @steveprentice @galg @EdinburghWhisky @TIA568B @Whisky_Demon @Saint_Jimmy @KirstyPryde1 @TWSYork @the_josephellis @fr1day

If you want to be included in the next Tweet Tasting make sure you are following @TheWhiskyWire on Twitter to find out what is happening.

For more information see: and for information about Old Ballantruan Whisky see

No comments: