“Stay true and excellence will always be your side.” These were the words of George Ballantine, a man who worked hard to create what can undoubtedly be called one of the greatest Scotch whisky blending brands of all time. The name ‘Ballantine’s is synonymous with everything that one can expect from Scotch whisky – great taste, sublime smoothness and finest quality. Ballantine’s is the second largest selling Scotch whisky brand worldwide, and the second largest selling Scotch in the entire European continent, truly a colossal feat.
What began merely as a grocery store dealing and supplying whisky to their patrons, grew exponentially to become one of the most formidable family run businesses in Scotland. George Ballantine, along with his sons George II, Archibald and Daniel, took the Ballantine family name to greater heights. They earned a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1895, a feat that few whisky brands in Scotland have managed in their history.
The Ballantine’s Finest blended Scotch whisky is the oldest and most successful Ballantine’s blend still in production. Over the course of its near 200 year history, the legendary house of Ballantine’s has developed a diverse, complex and excellent portfolio of blended Scotch whiskies. The hard work and expertise of five great men, who served as Master Blenders at the company has helped Ballantine’s enrich and preserve its legacy.
Sandy Hyslop, the current Master Blender at Ballantine’s
George Ballantine, George Robertson, Jack Goudy, Robert Hicks and Sandy Hyslop, the current Master Blender, have created all the expressions that form the core Ballantine’s range today. Let us discover the excellence of every Ballantine’s blend currently available in the market.
A timeless classic is how some people consider the Ballantine’s Finest can be best described. For others, they prefer to use a lot more words to praise this fantastic blend! The Ballantine’s Finest is a top selling blended Scotch whisky, and some estimates even suggest that more than 200,000 bottles are sold each day. That speaks volumes about its quality and mass appeal in pretty much every whisky-loving country you could think of.
One of the most interesting things about this iconic blend is the fact that its recipe remains unchanged since 1910, when the Ballantine’s family first created it. It is by far one of the best standard blended Scotch whiskies in the market. The most often cited positive attributes of this blend are its creamy texture, excellent balance of flavours and unmatched smoothness. If you feel talk about this blend to be hyperbole, don’t simply trust us. Get yourself a bottle of Ballantine’s Finest and give yourself a chance to fall in love with it.
A remarkable 12 Year Old Scotch like no other, and it is made from the best Ballantine’s has to offer. As most Ballantine’s expressions, this is a blended Scotch, a combination of their finest single malt whiskies from the splendid Miltonduff and Glenburgie distilleries, and grain whiskies from the Strathclyde grain distillery. The 12 years of age give it an excellent smoothness which is of course accompanied by all the signature Ballantine’s flavours.
This Ballantine’s 12 Year Old is a new release, replacing the previous one. The obvious lack of peat smoke is one of the standout characteristics of Ballantine’s blends, and this one does not stray from familiar territory. Lots of fruit and sweetness on the nose, some Sherry influence along with vanilla is there too. When you taste it, you taste a delicate complexity of sweet honey and floral flavours, with a hint of sweet vanilla. The creamy texture makes way for a long finish, and a final fading sweetness. Some excellent work from the people at Ballantine’s with the new 12 Year Old.
Oh there is no need to rub your eyes in disbelief for what you just read is true. The Miltonduff single malt is one of the foundations of every Ballantine’s blend, but for years it played a pivotal role from backstage. It was in 2017 that Ballantine’s decided that such goodness indeed must be shared with the world. They surprised the world by releasing three different 15 year old single malts Scotch whiskies from three of their distilleries, the Miltonduff, the Glenburgie and the Glentauchers.
About the Miltonduff, its influence on any Ballantine’s blend cannot be understated at all. A Speyside distillery at its core, the Miltonduff single malt Scotch has all the things you would expect from it. A distinctly floral and fruity character full of warmth, sweetness and buttery nuts. Sweet milk chocolate, soft floral flavours and hints of cinnamon spice round off an extremely pleasant and enriching drinking experience. The finish is warming, sweet and very long. This is a bottle you won’t like to share with your friends and guests so keep it close.
The second Ballantine’s single malt expression released by the company in 2017, the Glenburgie 15 Year Old is on par with some of the best 15 year old single malt Scotch whiskies ever created. The way Ballantine’s choose to describe this one will certainly peak your curiosity. The company calls it ‘..one of our best kept secrets’, and they are not just saying that for the marketing.
What you may not know about the Glenburgie single malt is that it forms the heart of the all Ballantine’s blends, and the juicy fruits and delicious honey flavours are the magic it conjures. The Ballantine’s Glenburgie 15 Year Old single malt has aromas of sweet red apples and black currant perfectly balanced with the sweetness of honey. On the palate, sweet juicy oranges and vanilla complete a refreshing experience that ends with a well-rounded, long finish. What a remarkable release this one!
The Ballantine’s Glentauchers 15 Year Old single malt Scotch whisky gives the world a chance to savour one of the three crucial single malts that make up every Ballantine’s blend. The distillery, built in 1898 is renowned for its light tasting, sweet and floral spirit, a quality that is considered very attractive by Scotch whisky lovers.
Usually all the spirit from Glentauchers, Miltonduff and Glenburgie is reserved for the Ballantine’s blends, the second highest selling Scotch whisky of the world. The 2017 release of 15 year old single malt Scotch from these distilleries gave the world a chance to savour something truly unique like never before. Soft and aromatic, the Glentauchers single malt enamoured critics and enthusiasts with its smoothness. Sweet citrus aromas combine with floral heather and delicate hazelnut, and flavours of sweet raspberry and black currant coated in barley sugar are tantalizing to say the least. Of course the luscious finish is the proverbial cherry on top, proving what a wonderful idea it was to release a series of single malts by Ballantine’s.
Ask any Ballantine’s loyalist to pick one, just one bottle of Ballantine’s to drink for the rest of their lives. You will find an astonishing number of them would go for the Ballantine’s 17 Year Old, and to be honest, we don’t disagree with them at all. It is quite difficult to summarize our thoughts about the Ballantine’s 17 Year Old so let’s do it with one word. Utterly magnificent, and we know those were two words.
The work of George Robertson, second Master Blender in the history of Ballantine’s, the 17 Year Old was created with heavily matured surplus whisky during the Prohibition. It is perhaps one of the few good things that came out of those perilous times. Jim Murray famously fell in love with this one, awarding it Whisky Of The Year, an award not many blends take home. Delicious aromas of vanilla and oak with the softest whisper of smoke greet one immediately, followed by a full-bodied texture that brings flavours of honey and vanilla cream with hints of spice. The finish is exceptionally long, sweet and satisfying.
Rare, old and absolutely otherworldly are the three words that best describe the Ballantine’s 21 Year Old blended Scotch whisky. A lot of the vintage source whiskies that make up this blend have been matured in European Oak barrels, which give it an almost unreal crisp character. Whiskies older than 21 years have been used too, and they make their presence felt very well.
The Ballantine’s 21 Year Old is incredibly rich, yet smooth as can be. The elegant bottle is quite different than most Ballantine’s expressions that use the famous flat, rectangular bottle. Very aromatic and appealing on the nose, with soft smoke and orange marmalade for company. There is an unmistakable spiciness on the palate, balanced impeccably with the sweet and fruity flavours. Especially complex and intense in all facets, and the finish is just mesmerizingly long and fruity. Must be taken neat, and neat alone at all times.
This is where the Ballantine’s range moves into super-premium, luxury Scotch whiskies, and the 30 Year Old is a prime example of unparalleled decadence. Not a lot of people get the chance to taste a 30 Year Old Scotch, and even when they do, it is nearly impossible to taste a bad 30 Year Old Scotch. Which makes the competition even more marginal, and that is somewhere the Ballantine’s 30 Year Old excels.
Every component that has gone into the making of this blend is sublime. Whether it is the existence of super rare source whiskies from ‘ghost distilleries’ that no longer exist, or a recipe that was the handiwork of George Robertson, the man that gave the world another stellar Ballantine’s, the 17 Year Old. It is quite tempting to use the word ‘masterpiece’ when speaking of this delightful blended Scotch, and even then, it would simply be understating it. Once in a lifetime whisky really, as you will realize when you take in the deep, captivating aromas of sweet fruit and vanilla. The palate embodies every Speyside characteristic that whisky connoisseurs love – sweet honey, floral heather and soft orchard fruits with just a touch of vanilla. Not to forget the signature long Ballantine’s finish before you immediately go for a second sip. Masterful stuff from Ballantine’s.
What can even be said about this one! Forty years of painstaking craftsmanship and patience, pouring every bit of experience into making something extraordinary. The Ballantine’s 40 Year Old is an extremely rare luxury Scotch, and only a 100 bottles of it are released each year.
One can say it with some amount of certainty that not many of us may even get to lay eyes on a bottle of this one. Each bottle is numbered uniquely, by hand and the beautiful dark bottle is enclosed within a wooden box adorned with the Ballantine’s coat of arms in silver. The rich and captivating aromas of fruity syrup, and hints of cinnamon spice and homemade cake are mouth-watering to say the least. There is an almost unreal depth of flavour, bringing the best Ballantine’s has to offer. Smooth and layered, rich toffee and sweet red apples make way for the long finish that can only be called divine.
20th February 2019https://www.ballantines.com/en-EN/our-story