The internet is littered with whisky blogs written by people all over the world. Each one has a goal and more often than not it is to driven views and make themselves known to producers and distributors to get access to whiskies we simply cannot afford.

What this means is the content is all about unattainable halo products and not any help when you are in the supermarket or airport duty free. In fact, when I look at the viewing figures for all the posts on this site it quickly becomes apparent that the most popular posts with the highest engagements are supermarket exclusives or lower value bottles which are clearly been skim read under pressure in the aisle. So, with that in mind I thought it was time for a change of pace and to review one of the first budget blends for this blog.

In the past I haven’t been able to drink some of the well known cheaper blends without resorting to pouring it down the sink. Teachers, Naked Grouse and High Commissioner have all met that murky end. Ballantine’s however, did not.

The Brand

The starting point of the Ballantine’s brand follows a similar pattern to that of Johnnie Walker. George Ballantine opened a shop in Edinburgh as a grocer and wine merchange in 1827. Like so many of these shop owner’s and indeed whisky shops today his son developed his own line of propitiatory whiskies.

Today the finest blend has been in constant release since 1910 and is made from 50 malt whiskies and 4 grain whiskies. The named distilleries which play a central role in the recipe are Miltonduff and Glenburgie with Dumbarton grain being used before it was closed down in 2002. The brand is currently owned by Chivas and the range includes a number of different age statements (12,17,21,30 and 40), the spirit drink flavoured with lime and the finest which I am reviewing today.

The Dram

The finest bottle is bottled at 40% and is coloured and filtered like all the budget ranges. It is cheap to pay pretty much anywhere at at most £20 in the UK. It is bottled in an older style bottle and appeals to nostalgia which is becoming increasingly rare as more and more re-brands happen to hipster up the whisky sector.

Tasting Notes

Colour – whisky coloured

Nose – fresh apples to start with and a touch of some smoke in the background. Overall its a very sweet  nose.

Palate – Soft fruits which have fallen on the ground and then eaten without having been washed first. This is very grassy and earthy. Again, there is a lot of sweet notes of sugar and barley. The texture is quite waxy but not thick as you might have expected from a blend so weak in the bottle.

Finish – The finish is short and sweet with more apple notes. The peat smoke is subtle and masks more of the barley sugar sweetness.

Final Thoughts

Pleasantly surprised by this at how good it was. It might be the case that some cheaper blends are said to be for mixing only. A concept which I have always found weird because if the ingredients in the drink are unpalatable then why would you want to drink it alongside anything else?

Regardless, this is a sip able whisky in its own right and one to look out for if you have to find something cheap, cheerful and summery this year.


One thought on “Ballantine’s Finest

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