Wednesday nights Tweet Tasting, which was once again ably hosted by Steve from The Whisky Wire, gave us the opportunity to sample one of the worlds powerhouse whisky blends in terms of global sales and awareness.
I’m talking, of course, about Ballantine’s which is the No.1 Scotch whisky in Europe and the No. 2 Scotch whisky in the world with their range selling over 70 million bottles a year worldwide.
Winners of more than 130 trophies and medals at international competitions in the past 10 years, Ballantine’s is known for its outstanding quality, unique richness of character and perfect balance.
The range, from Ballantine’s Finest to the exclusive 40 Year Old, is the most extensive in the world of Scotch and is maintained by Master Blender Sandy Hyslop, continuing the brand’s tradition of Master Blenders that dates back to 1827.
We were particularly honoured to have Sandy tasting along with us tweeters on the night which makes a special event even more special – after all, it’s always great to get the facts straight from the Head Drammers mouth!
Their was a fantastic selection of five whiskies being sampled on the night and they were:-
- Ballantines Finest
- Ballantines 12 Year Old
- Ballantines 17 Year Old
- Ballantines 21 Year Old
- Ballantines 30 Year Old
If you want to catch up on what all the tasters had to say, you can view the tweets by searching for the hash tag #BallantinesTT on Twitter.
So, what did I think?
Here are my tasting notes … and the one which was my favourite on the night!
Tasting Notes – Ballantines Finest ( 40% )
Ballantine’s Finest is the oldest recipe in the current range, created in 1910 by the Ballantine’s family.
There are more than 40 malts & grains in this blend (with particular emphasis on Miltonduff and Glenburgie), carefully selected from 4 different iconic Scottish regions and matured in American Oak Barrels.
Ballantines Finest was Jim Murray’s No Age Statement Blend of the Year with a whopping 96 points!
Nose: Sweet vanilla & toffee – fruity and slightly woody with a bit of yummy spice!
Palate: Sweet fruits & honey with vanilla! Apples and a little grapefruit.
Finish: Warming and spicy with a long caramel backtaste.
Overall: A really nice blended whisky this, made even more remarkable by the retail price – amazing value for money!
Tasting Notes – Ballantines 12 Year Old ( 40% )
Ballantines 12 Year Old has won 26 medals in the world’s top spirits awards over the last 10 years.
The signature malts within the blend are Glenburgie & Miltonduff and the malt and grain whiskies used to create this 12YO are predominantly aged in American oak casks.
Nose: Subtle nose – vanilla & promises of something sweet … maybe icing sugar. Apple and oakyness come thru a little later but you have to be patient!
Palate: Sweet pear and creamy toffee, quite thin and light in the mouth.
Finish: A short finish with a nice spice and vanilla combination going well together.
Overall: Ballantine’s Master Blender Sandy Hyslop said this was his favourite blend of the range and I can see why – fantastic, all round flavours at an incredible price!
Tasting Notes – Ballantines 17 Year Old ( 43% )
This was Jim Murray’s Scotch Blend of the Year for 2010!
Every cask of Ballantine’s 17 is nosed before it’s emptied to be blended. Nothing is left to chance.
Nose: Faintly smokey with a lovely fruit hit!
Palate: Powerfully sweet with hints of stewed fruit – very smooth & luxurious – creamy even.
Finish: Tempered ginger spice, slight tanin – maximum yummy! 🙂
Overall: The stronger smoke adds something very special to the 17YO. Coupled with the smooth sweetness and you’ve got a very drinkable dram!
Tasting Notes – Ballantines 21 Year Old ( 40% )
The 21 Year Old has a higher proportion of whiskies matured in European oak casks compared to the rest of the range.
Nose: Rich, with a stronger woodiness to it – sweet n’ fruity with little whiffs of smoke.
Palate: Generous mouth feel, caramelised fruits, salty and a delicate taste of liquorice – lovely!
Finish: Satisfyingly long spicy finish with a gorgeous sweet n’ peppery finale!
Overall: The 21YO is a robust dram that’s got some serious Oomph! Very sure of itself and it has every right to be – it delivers!
Tasting Notes – Ballantines 30 Year Old ( 43% )
The very first batch of the Ballantine’s 30 was sold in 1930, so the stock was first laid down in 1900.
It won a Gold at the International Spirits Challenge and Jim Murray gave it 92 points.
Some of the whiskies are incredibly rare, from distilleries that are no longer in existence, Dalmunach and Dumbarton being two of them.
When asked to sum the 30YO up in five words, Sandy replied: “Fruity. Sweet. Voluptuous. Velvety. Balanced. That’s my taste of Ballantine’s 30yr old.”
He also added that for every Ballantine’s 30 yr old they sell, they lose 2 bottles to the angels. Eeek!
Nose: Fantastic pear – I can almost feel the grainy pear-ness! Mint, vanilla, banana, spice – all sorts of mature goodiness! A little bit of woodyness is in there as well.
Palate: Smooth, so smooth. Lovely sumptuous flavours of apricot & mango! Rich, sherry sweetness.
Finish: Smooth, mature, fruity sweetness and tempered spiciness that goes on and on in a glorious fashion!
Overall: A big hit wth the tweeters on the night and it’s not surprising – this is an exceptional dram that really shows the breadth of maturity that this fine blended whisky range can attain.
My Favourite On The Night
Well that has to be the Ballantines 30 Year Old – a standard defining blended whisky with a superior taste!
I was also well impressed with the 17YO – especially if the wallet is complaining – which it usually is!
Last, but certainly not least, I shall certainly be adding the 12YO to my drinks cabinet – a lovely ‘daily’ dram – and at such a fantastic price point!
And of course, @Ballantines, without whom!
My fellow Tweeters were:-
@TheWhiskyWire @EdinburghWhisky @TheWhiskyBoys @WhiskyWardrobe @Girl_Whisky @DrinksEnthusist @LRWhisky @TonyWTC @Whisky_Magazine @whiskyjunkie @OliverKlimek @champdenwhite @MCRWhiskyClub @Whisky_Belfast @SWWIG @WhiskyCorner @ben_cops @winepaper_fr @Thibaut_Octave @luxsure
Ballantines is available to buy from these Whisky Merchants:-