Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: Pernod Ricard
Average price: € 14.00
Official website: www.ballantines.com
Let’s go back talking about “popular” whiskies with another very well-known blended. one that can be found in any supermarket, even small ones.
It’s one of the best selling Scotches in the world, but of course the fact that it’s cheap will have nothing to do with its success…
The Ballantine family, from whom the label takes its name, ran a small grocery shop in Edinburgh from 1827, but it was with the passing of the shop from the founder to his sons Archibald and George Jr. that they began to produce their own blend (in a story not dissimilar to that of Chivas Regal), until the second half of the 19th century when “George Ballantine and Son Ltd” was founded.
It was little George Jr. who made the business flourish, and it was sold at a large profit to Barclay and McKinlay in 1919, who in turn sold it in 1937 to Gooderham & Worts; the latter received the prestigious Grant of Heraldic Arm (still on the label) a year later, consecrating George Ballantine & Son as “the embodiment of Scottish Nobility”.
Business was booming, leading to the purchase of two distilleries to support production (Miltonduff and Glenburgie) and the founding of another in Dumbarton (which remained in operation until 2002).
The Ballantine’s brand became widely recognised and appreciated in Europe as well as around the world, and has been firmly in the hands of Pernod Ricard since 2005.
In addition to the present one, there are six other editions in the core range of the label: another NAS (the Limited), the 12yo, 12yo Pure Malt, 17yo, 21yo, 30yo and 40yo.
Obviously whisky with added colouring, bringing it to a golden amber as always useful to evoke an agée distillate.
On the nose, the alcohol arrives overbearingly, the kind you use for cleaning, trying to hide a not bad aroma of amaretto, dried fruit and rusks. But it’s all very crushed and lashed by this synthetic and annoying presence, which in the end prevails and cancels out any good intention. Pity.
Fortunately, on the palate, the alcohol takes a bit of a back seat, bringing out vanilla, amaretto, dried fruit and candied orange. All very sweetish and also difficult to discern, in a profile that is (and wants to be, let’s be clear) superficial and drinkable, as it should be given the reference market. The alcoholic stridency of the nose infiltrates the already precarious balance of the taste.
The finish is very short, evanescent, a hint of sweet alcohol like a discount baba.
No one can expect, let alone demand, complexity and depth from a bottling created for mass distribution and at such a popular price: you get what you spend, and it is little.