Old Ballantruan 10 Years (2020)
I’m not quite sure why, but once upon a time the marketing people at Angus Dundee decided to differentiate between the peated and unpeated single malt made at Tomintoul. Launched in 2005, Old Ballantruan is the distillery’s peated whisky. They’re not the only one to do so. Bruichladdich as Port Charlotte and Octomore, while Arran has Machrie Moor.
But while I associate those brand with each other, that’s not exactly the case with Old Ballantruan. When I see a bottle, I don’t think of Tomintoul. That might just be me or maybe it’s by design. Either way, that’s not what I’d strive for as a distillery owner. I’d like people to know where my whisky is made, even if my distillery produces more than one brand. Instead, Tomintoul Distillery is barely even brought up on the Old Ballantruan website, except for mention of the Tomintoul village. I’d like my brands to strengthen each other, which I don’t feel is the case right now for Tomintoul and Old Ballantruan.
But onto the matter at hand, which is the Old Ballantruan 10 Years. Other than tasting notes there’s not much information available, unless you count the mostly generic explanation of how whisky is made. What speaks for it is that the whisky is bottled at 50% abv.
Old Ballantruan 10 Years (50%, OB, 2020)
Nose: Rather gentle with soft smoke, smouldering embers and subtle earthy notes, followed by bandaids. Touches of heather and moss. Some puff pastry, caramel, speculaas (spiced biscuits) and green banana skin, but also pickled oranges.
Taste: Earthy peat and licorice, as well as charcoal and smoked, sweet barley husks. Touches of menthol cigarettes and baking spices as well. A whisper of iodine even.
Finish: Licorice, aniseed and heather. Rather long.
Not your average peater, but I find this Old Ballantruan 10 Years very agreeable, maybe because it is not like every other smoky whisky out there. Recommended!
Photo: The Whisky Exchange
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.