Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ballantine's 12yo: True Blue

Ballantine's 12yo, flanked by 17yo (left) & Finest (right)
As part of my ongoing review of Ballantine's whisky, I now move onto the Ballantine's 12 years old. To clarify, I am referring to the blended 12yo, not the 12yo Pure Malt (which is not available in the whisky back-water of Australia anyway). I am not going to the dwell on my Ballantine's love-affair, please see my prior post for that synopsis.

Back to the 12yo, let's take a look at the packaging. It seems the current narrow 'tall-neck' rectangular clear bottle is relatively new and in contrast to the Finest's brown stumpy-neck. Nonetheless, it has all the familiar branding, with the bottle and box dominated by a (Scottish?) royal blue. The packaging gives the impression I am drinking an expensive whisky, but it retails for A$50 in Australia.

On the nose, caramel and vanilla notes, maybe some toffee, still a pervading sense of alcohol as the your nostrils creep deeper into the glass. The liquorice tones from the Finest are present, but more subdued. There's also a damp oakiness present, with the whiff somewhat more appealing than the Finest. I guess you could say it's more rounded and balanced on the nose, obviously the sign of a good blend.

To taste, I nice mix of vanilla, honey and oakiness. As the whisky moves through to the throat, a strong citrus note swells in the mouth. It ends on a salty-citrus-high, which brings some nice freshness and liveliness to the whisky. It's definitely a very easy drinking whisky, so don't be afraid to give it a full swirl around the mouth to release those flavours.

The grain note that dominates the Finest blend are more controlled in this expression, so expect much less of the furniture polish intense'ness. I discovered I enjoyed the Finest more towards the end of the bottle, as these overwhelming grain notes dissipated with the extra air in the bottle.

If I was to give a dram, then the Ballantine's 12yo would receive four-and-three quarter (4.75) from a possible seven. Would I buy it again? Yes, but I am biased...I think it's a good blend for A$50, and worth paying the premium over the Finest. Having said that, if blends aren't really your thing then you don't need me to tell you not to buy it, as you'll whine about the lack of biased flavours. Just remember, that's the point.

As always, drink wisely, The Diplomat.