Ballantine’s 21 Years Old
When I wrote the tasting note for Ballantine’s 21 Years Old Blended Whisky, I vaguely remembered a news article from a few years ago. It was about thousands of liters of whisky being accidentally dumped into a sewer at the Chivas Brothers bottling plant in Dumbarton.
I googled for a bit, and found the article. I remember thinking: ‘As long as it’s Ballantine’s, that’s fine by me.’ The standard Ballantine’s represents a blended whisky I once drank probably over a decade ago, didn’t like at all, and since has become a bit of a inside joke between me and a friend.
That however, was long before I drank their 21 year old expression. As it turns out, this is an excellent whisky. I sincerely hope none of it was spilled one that faithful night in the winter of 2013.
Ballantine’s 21 Years Old (43%, OB)
Nose: Soft smoke, light spices and subtle fruits. Some cloves and star anise (very distant), but also oranges and pizza dough. Somewhat waxy, with a hint of honey. Surprisingly pricklish at such a low abv.
Taste: Big on the caramel and fudge, with whispers of bitter orange peel, milk chocolate and charred oak. Fairly spicy (that’s the European oak talking) with cloves and nutmeg, followed by a pinch of salt.
Finish: Long, with lingering spices and dried fruits.
Good balance + good complexity = good whisky. Enjoyable stuff.
Photo: Master of Malt
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.