Review: Ballantine's 17 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

17 yrs
Scottish Malt and Grain Whiskies
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This is a relatively affordable, and quite decent, 17 year old bottling. The whisky was first blended in the 1930s, from a combination of malt and grain whiskies over scotland. Since then, it’s still on the market and is certainly great whisky. Since the time I had this bottle (2013), sadly, the ABV has dropped to 40%.

Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Bits of vanilla, caramel, oak, a touch of bourbon, cantaloupe, there is some brilliant peat smoke in the background as well which is very well integrated. Fruitiness is on the nose in the form of green apple peel and pears – the fruit is very lively in the nose. Gooseberries too! And grainy, too...this changes and develops as you spend time with it, and different flavours come out consistently! Complex, and a bit coy – you do need to spend your time with it.

Taste: It’s light, and fairly sweet, with apples, and light brown sugar, and some building spices. There’s a touch of molasses as well, and gooseberries once again. There are many flavours in this, and yet they are not in conflict with one another. There is light maltiness as well, but it, like all other things, is not dominant. Nice little dash of smoke in there as well!

Finish: Develops from some spice to some oak and then malt and peat, which takes some time to appear. Again the fruitiness is there and lifts up the flavour quite well in combination with the light vanilla, custard, white rye bread and coconut. The vanilla seems to develop wonderfully as you drink it. The oak comes in as well, yet it’s still light and very much in the background. Quite grainy – it even tastes a bit wheaty! Some nice sweetness in the finish, along with some tannins…. Mouth filling, and thick, but a bit light and could last a bit longer.

It’s beautifully light, and yet full of flavour and subtlety. It feels a relaxing and comforting dram. Take your time with this one, as it greatly rewards patience. It’s very light, and consequently if you’re drinking this one quickly you might not be awed. However, if you take your time with this….you’ll have lots to discover. The balance is pretty amazing – to have a whisky which is so light, and yet has so much going on without one part dominating too much – it’s a very impressive creation.

With the general profile of the whisky I wonder a bit how much that 3% drop in ABV will have affected things. My guess is it is not gonna help...

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $110.