It is all about making the right impression

Ballantine's Tasting

The Ballantine’s slogan is ‘leave an impression’.

In business, whisky and life, making a good impression is very important. Your first impression being the most important. I was thinking about this during a Ballantine’s components tasting while at the club house at Loch Lomond Golf Course for the Scottish Open. Whoever played the best round of the day (Darren Clarke on day 1 and 2, Molinari on day 3) got given a bottle of Ballantine’s 21. It is a sign of huge respect within many countries to give someone an ultra premium blend, whether it is to reward a great round of Golf or mark an important business deal.

In some ways, a blend works far better than a malt when it comes to business. The reason, purely from a taste perspective, is that a blend is  easier drinking. Take a Ballantine’s 17, add some ice and a dash of water (normally I prefer whisky straight, but I found that this was the best way for me to drink Ballantine’s). You can sit with some friends or colleagues, and it doesn’t interrupt the conversation by being too peaty or strong. It isn’t the centre of attention, so you can get on with business. You drink it, it is sweet and non challenging. It encourages conversation.

Ballantine's Open

I know this all may be sounding a bit corporate for most maltheads out there, but I guess we have to look at it this way: deals done thousands of miles away affect our cherished single malts in mysterious ways…

  • The performance of the Maclaren F1 team could impact on the budget for Lagavullin
  • Pernod Ricard’s attitude to the recession could increase the supply of the Glenlivet
  • Diageo’s much rumoured takeover of Moet Hennesy’s spirit arm would influence Ardbeg’s releases
  • Graeme Mcdowell winning the US Open could boost Scapa’s sales in the future

Now, how about that!?


Since I was tasting some of Ballantine’s components, followed by their super premium range, I thought about who I would serve each of them to.

Ballantine’s 17
43% Abv
Can get it here

Nose: Almonds, vanilla and green apples covered in cream

Palate: Sweet. Slight hint of apples, vanilla and lemons

Finish: Quick

I am going to sit down with my boss and we will crack open a bottle and set the whisky world to rights.

Ballantine’s 21
43% Abv
Check it out here

Nose: Nutty, pepper, oak and lemon tea… I preferred it straight as opposed to watering it down

Palate: Fruity, honeyed and slightly salty

Finish: Again, quite quick

I think this would be for when I am rich enough to have membership at a particularly fine Golf course. I will drink this to remind myself of Loch Lomond and the Open.

Ballantine’s 30
Available here

Nose: Pears and a flower shop

Palate: Brown sugar, liquorice and spiciness

Finish: Ever so slight charcoal

I am looking for suggestions. I have never been in a situation where cracking open this kind of whisky would be suitable. Maybe a 30th birthday?

Ballantine’s Limited
Sandy Hyslop’s signature blend
Not available yet

Nose: Drier, spicier. Vanilla, pears and apples. Richer than the others

Palate: Heather honey, vanilla, cake icing.

To impress someone special. I would order it at the bar… two tumblers filled with ice, the whisky and a dash of water. A little taste and then get on with the conversation (hopefully she is paying, as I imagine this would be expensive by the dram!)

Glenburgie 17 yo
1st fill bourbon

Nose: Peaches, vanilla, pears and fruit salad

Palate: Green apples, citrus and lime

Finish: Quick

I thought this was superb. Truly brilliant liquid. I would give this to a malthead. It would definitely leave a good impression.

Miltonduff 17 yo

Nose: Floral and bananas

Palate: Very easy and pleasant to drink.

I think a malthead would be impressed by the name, but perhaps find the product a bit lacking in terms of bite.

Overall, Ballantine’s definitely left an impression on me. I spent two days watching the golf with them and thoroughly enjoyed it. Good hospitality, friendly people, precision organisation and a very personal feel to the tasting and their involvement in the Scottish Open. Long may it continue!


PS: Thanks are in order!

My Educators: Peter Moore (Ballantine’s Brand Director) , Jennie Brown (Head of Chivas PR), Ken Lindsay (International Brand Ambassador for Ballantine’s),  Jon Lane (International Marketing Manager-Ballantine’s Prestige)

My Tasting Buddies: Andy, Ania, Caitriona and Richard.


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