Monday, January 22, 2018

Review - The Ballantine's Single Malts

The blended Scotch brand have entered the single malt category with the release of three whiskies. These are from three of the most important distilleries that contribute single malt to the Ballantine's blended range - Glenburgie, Glentauchers and Miltonduff. All are from the Speyside region and bottled at 15 years of age. They are each presented at 40% ABV and will be available in Asia through travel retail, before seeing a global domestic market introduction. The price will be £42 ($56 US) each.

Ballantine's whisky was first produced in 1869 by Edinburgh grocer George Ballantine. He expanded his grocery business in to the area of wines and spirits and started blending his own whiskies as many were doing at the time. The extensive range of Ballantine's blended Scotches is in second place for total volume sales, behind only Johnnie Walker, selling 70 million bottles a year. The brand is currently owned by Chivas Brothers, which is part of the larger Pernod Ricard group.

Our tasting notes

Ballantine's Glenburgie 15 years old
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has an immediate aroma of golden syrup and green apple. Underneath are further aromas of brown sugar, malted cereals, vanilla and a big pinch of cinnamon. On the palate this whisky is soft and velvety with a gentle feel. Initial notes of crisp green apple and brown sugar slowly sees other characterisitics begin to evolve - caramel, toffee, stewed pear, malt biscuits, warm baking spices and a hint of gingerbread. The warming spices come through a little stronger on the finish, especially once the sweeter and fruiter elements begin to fade. This gives a soft, pleasant and refreshing dryness.

Ballantine's Glentauchers 15 years old
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has a delicious sweetness with a delicate floral aroma in the background. There is plenty of heather honey and peardrop sweets, which are backed up by freshly sawn oak, warm baking spices and hints of candied lemon and marshmallow. On the palate this whisky feels light and fresh with a lovely honey-like sweetness. There is a pleasant background savoury note, that has a hint of leather, that accentuates notes of green apples, peardrops and candied lime. A robust malted barley characteristic becomes increasingly influential and this leads through to a warming and slightly drying finish.

Ballantine's Miltonduff 15 years old
The colour is pale gold and the nose has a vibrancy and freshness to it. Aromas of honey, golden syrup and malted cereals kick things off and are then supported by more subtle aromas of honeysuckle, white chocolate, apple crumble and cinnamon. On the palate this whisky has an immediate savoury note that is most reminiscent of bittersweet malted barley and a hint of burnt caramel. Further notes of candied orange, brown sugar, stewed apple and a pinch of baking spices. The savoury characteristics and some late warming wood spices come through to create a robust finish that lingers for a long time and fades slowly.

What's the verdict?
This is an interesting range of whiskies and a bold step by Chivas Brothers to put them under the Ballantine's label. All three are classic Speysiders and have elements of the Ballantine's blends that they normally serve, but each offers something different.

The Glenburgie is soft, fruity and gentle, while the Glentauchers is light, fresh and sweet. The Miltonduff is savoury, warming and robust. They are enjoyable and easy drinking, both individually and as a set. They also offer good value for money and the opportunity to now taste malts from three distilleries that were rare on the market.