Ballantine's Finest 2011 Review

Country: Scotland
Brand: Ballantine’s Finest
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol: 40%

Colour: Light Gold

Nose: Lots of Malt and Sweet Grain. It’s a bit like Corn Flakes with a tiny bit of Honey. Biscuits as well or maybe even Pizza Dough. No Fruit and hardly any Wood. Sharp Alcohol notes are popping up from time to time

Taste:  Malt, Sweet Grain. Some Pepper. Quite disappointing really.

Finish: Short, Sugar.

Rating: 71 

Nose: 18 – Taste: 18 – Finish: 17 – Overall: 18

General Remarks: First of all I had trouble with nosing as sharp Alcohol notes kept coming back. But not to worry because there’s not much to sniff at. Malt and Grain are dominating and I miss balance. Miltonduff and Glenburgie are the main Single Malts for this blend but there are said to be as many as 50 whiskies in all present here, aged for at least 3 years! Where are they for peat’s sake?? Or is there a high percentage of young grain whiskies?

In any case the young components account for the lack of Wood and Vanilla tones that would really help to bring more balance to this blend, as would some more contact with European Oak Sherry casks. I added a few drops of water and it enhances the Malt in the nose. Taste wise it doesn’t do any good so I suggest not adding water or a couple of drops at the most. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Average

Given the very positive notes in the press I was really looking forward to this one. All considering, this blend is not bad but it’s boring and I can’t see what the fuss is all about! Or do we get different bottles here in Brazil? That would be even worse! As it is, I consider Ballantine’s Finest to be completely dominated by Grains and lacking diversity. It’s the perfect breakfast whisky!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  October 8, 2011

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