Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Ballantine's 17 years old Blended Scotch Whisky

Ballantine's 17 Years old Blended Scotch Whisky










Each year, in late November and early December, whisky and scotch bloggers across the internet start posting their 'awards.'  'This whisky is the best or that one is the best.'  Often the 'winners' are very expensive, limited release bottlings that are not obtainable by the average Joe or Jane (in case you are a lady whisky fan).  

Anyhow, I have no such list, awards, ribbons or medals to decorate certain bottles that I am mighty passionate about.  Why?  Laziness mostly.  It takes time and a lot of thought (and maybe a wee little arrogance too) to declare that this or that whisky is the best. 

People do like lists.  They are helpful, a guide of sorts.  Especially during the holiday season.  I must receive a minimum of five emails a month asking me what are the best whiskies.  I always respond by first asking:  what do you like?  Smokey, peaty whisky?  If so, I have my Islay recommendations ready for you.  If you are a honey, cinammon nut with a flourish of smoke, I have a list of Speyside, Highland and other suggestions.  Maybe I should post my suggestions.  I'll get to work on that . . .

In any case, the reason I am posting today is to acknowledge that I, like you, read those lists, and cyber award ceremonies that the online experts state are the best of the best whiskies.  Probably the first whisky authority to make that declaration this year was Jim Murray.  (Jim, if you're reading this, I hope it is ok for me to refer to you by your name, as the write-up on you in Wikipedia states you have trademarked your name.)


Jim Murray in a pensive moment


















If you go to Mr. Jim's website (click here) you will note that on October 12th, 2010, he wrote that Ballantine's 17 years old blended scotch whisky is the 2011 "World Whisky of the Year."  A blended whisky that is better than all those wonderful single malts?  Yep, according to Jim that's the facts.

I must say I was very sceptical about such a claim.  Why?  Well, for starters, Ballantine's Finest, the standard bottling of blended whisky is about one of the worst I have ever tried.  More candied than Donny and Marie Osmond crooning on their show of the same name that ran from 1976 to 1979.



Jim is undeterred by my opinion.  You see, he also declared that Ballantine's Finest was the best, no age statement, standard, blended scotch whisky.  Truly baffling to me.

Returning to Ballantine's 17 years old, Jim wrote:

"This currently marks the epitome of great blending, indeed, great whisky: nowhere else can you find balance, texture, and content come together in such a sensual, graceful way.  It really is the nectar of the gods, except even they might struggle to get to the bottom of its labyrinthine complexity.  It needed something out of this world to see off the two Buffalo Trace whiskeys . . . and this was it." 

(emphasis added)

"Nectar of the gods" and "out of this world" . . . how many times have you read those trite, overused phrases?  Jim, you are setting the bar very high.

Jim reviewed the 2010-11 release pictured below:


















My bottling is from the year before.  Blended scotch tends to be very consistent in flavor profile from year to year.  Ballantine's have been at it a very long time.  So, there should not be much deviation in flavor from my bottling and Jim's.  That would be the underlying assumption of my review.  Here goes my non-expert opinion:
Ballantine's 17 years old blended scotch whisky













Nose (undiluted)
Soft peat, Oriental tea, wet cedar.

Palate (undiluted)
Sweet at first.  Peat, limes, green tea, turning to slight tangerine entwined with very sticky honey.  The effervesence of lime Perrier and other citrus notes will delight the palate.  Grain is sweet and very good.  The palate is easy, rounded and displays a classic blended scotch style.  Very mellow.

Finish (undiluted)
The lasting flavors change up from mellow to give a little kick of interest.  Malty, oak laden and tangy sea salt hang and dries a little, which is an interesting twist on a common theme.

General Impressions
This is a very good blended scotch whisky.  Frankly, one of the better blends.  Ranking among blends I would put it a little ahead of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, but behind Royal Salute.  In my mind, Royal Salute is simply the best blended scotch whisky.  Ballantine's 17 years is a very close and respectable second place.

Ballantine's 17 years will meet all the basic attributes that the mainstream consumer requires from their scotch whisky.  It is smooth yet interesting.  Pleasing to the senses (ie. eye, nose, taste).  No bite or offensive qualities.  Makes a super holiday gift for the casual drinker seeking a pleasurable whisky without taking any risks in terms of flavor.  You cannot go wrong buying this for someone you know who likes other premium blends like Johnnie Walker Blue, Chivas Regal 18, etc.

So, with respect to Jim Murray's remark that Ballantine's 17 "marks the epitome of great blending . . ." I agree.  This is one of the finer blended scotch whiskies available.  Well, maybe not the 'epitome,' but yeah it is a very good blend.  However, it is by no means the "nectar of the gods."  That would imply that this blend is superior to all other whiskies, including single malts.  This is the point where I and Jim part ways.  Of course you might think: "Jason, you are not reviewing the same bottle release as he.  You are not comparing apples and oranges."  I hear ya, and I can appreciate that there can be deviation in taste in blended scotch (rare as that may be, but not so unusual in single malt), but Mr. Jim makes claims that go beyond this.  Jim is of the opinion that this blended scotch is superior to all single malts this year!

Whisky Intelligence (click here) is a website which posts all the press releases of the whisky industry, and so naturally it had also announced Mr. Murray's selection of Ballantine's 17 years as the "Whisky of the Year" for 2011 (click here).  Perusal of the press release indicates that Jim is of the opinion that Ballantine's 17 outshines all other whiskies.  I would refer you to the last two sentences of his tasting note:

"One of the most beautiful, complex and stunningly structured whiskies ever created.  To the extent that for the last year, I have simply been unable to find a better whisky anywhere in the world."

Complexity?
Mr. Murray describes Ballantine's 17 as one of the most complex whiskies ever created. 

To my mind, 'complexity' refers to the ability of a whiskey, when upon the palate, to display numerous distinct flavors simultaneously.  This is where a good single malt leaves blended scotch in the dust.  Think of Clyenlish 14, Cragganmore 12, Glenlivet 18, Glenfiddich 15 years and others.  These are whiskies that have complexity: delicate flavors that you can count and pick out with considerable clarity, as if each flavor was the footstep of a tiny dancer on your tongue.  The flavors are fresh and easy to delineate. 

Now, think of blended whisky, whether premium or not.  Start with Johnnie Walker Red Label, Teacher's Highland Cream, Ballantine's Finest and then step up to the premium blends like Chivas Regal 18yrs, Famous Grouse 12, Ballantine's 17 and even the mighty Johnnie Walker Blue.  Here all the flavors are what I term 'rounded' or 'generalized.'  These spirits deliver a melding or melting pot of flavors where none dominate, and all share a slice of some generalized flavor pie diagram.  Rarely can a blended scotch escape from such mainstream mellow mediocrity when compared to single malts.  Nor do they want to.  Blended scotch exhibits the flavor profile I have described for good reason: this is what the vast majority of casual whisky consumers prefer.  But, for Mr. Murray to say that Ballantine's 17 is "the most beautiful, complex and stunningly structured whiskies ever created" simply defies logic.

And so, I also have to disagree with his statement:  "To the extent that for the last year, I have simply been unable to find a better whisky anywhere in the world."  What he must be drinking cannot be even remotely in the same flavor profile as what I am drinking.

Talk about hyperbole!  Can't find a better whisky anywhere in the world he says?  There are several single malts that are, in my opinion, stunningly complex, beautiful and awesome:

Highland Park 15 year old Earl Magnus

Highland Park 25 years

Laphroaig Cairdeas (2010)

Or how about an awesome blended whisky:

Royal Salute

Hibiki 17years

. . . and frankly, Johnnie Walker Black Label 12yrs.  I prefer Johhnnie Black to Ballantines' 17.  Maybe some will disagree, but if so, I think a sip of Hibiki will settle any argument that that fine Japanese whisky out classes Ballantine's 17 any day.












Bottom Line
I fail to understand how Jim Murray can declare Ballantine's 17 years to be the overall whisky of 2011.  Truly baffling.  This whisky is an excellent blend.  Pleasing, enjoyable, a tad expensive but not disappointing so long as you do not compare it to some stellar single malts or the fine Japanese blend mentioned above.  Now, I am drinking the Ballantine's 17 from the year before, so it is possible that there is a huge improvement in taste, but somehow I doubt that is the case.  But even with a huge improvement, the claim he is making is incredulous.

With the upcoming holiday season, you will read many 'must buy' lists and award winning whiskies, but a healthy dose of scepticism is useful too.  Remember in the end, only your opinion truly counts!

Until next time . . .

Cheers!


Jason Debly

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved except for image of Jim Murray, a photograph that is in the Public Domain  according to Wikipedia and therefore free to be used by anyone.

62 comments:

  1. Great real world reply to Jim! A great read!

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  2. Speaking of money, maybe that's where Jim's recommendations come from.

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  3. Jason,

    Great review. Hope you don't catch too much flak for this one.

    Coincidentally, I have several bottles arriving to me this week among which are Royal Salute and Hibiki 17. After this review, I am even more excited about the GREAT deals that I got on these bottles.

    JT

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  4. Flak? Oh, it wouldn't be the first time. A while ago, I was threatened with a lawsuit by one drinks conglomerate because of a comment left anonymously.

    As for the recent purchases you made, you will not be disappointed. Be sure to email me your impressions. Both are fantastic blended whiskies that put to shame Ballantine's 17.

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  5. This is why I read your blog - your blatant honesty. I am so tired of reading blogs where they basically decree that all scotch is great. Keep up the great reviews!!

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  6. Well done, Jason!

    I don't think we should place too much stock in anybody's judgment, Mr. Murray's included. Everyone's taste buds are different and I know mine don't respond exactly the same every time I sip a dram. Perhaps the stars (and his taste buds) were aligned just so at the moment Murray sample the Ballantine's 17. Their good fortune!

    Question for you: Is the B 17 in the same league as the HP 18 (or 15) quality-wise? (I know; apples to oranges, but I enjoy a good blend as much as I enjoy good single malts.) How about the JB Green? Nothing is riding on the question, as I plan to buy a bottle at some point anyway, just curious about where you would place it in those particular match-ups.

    - Paul M.

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  7. Hello Paul!

    Ballantine's 17 is nowhere near the quality and the tremendous flavor profile of Highland Park 18. Not in the same universe.

    With respect to Johnnie Walker Green, I prefer Green to Ballantine's 17 anyday of the week.

    Ballantine's 17 is a nice blend, above average if you will. When you compare it to vatted blends (a blend of single malts, no grain) like Johnnie Walker Green, it pales in comparison. Johnnie Walker trumps it hands down.

    While it is true that a lot of you, I or Jim Murray like is subjective, I think there are some fundamental truths, if you will, of whisky quality. There are some that are terrible, some that are great. Ballantines is somewhere in between and below the rank of vatted malts like Johnnie Walker Green.

    Cheers!

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  8. Thanks again, Jason! Perhaps I'll try to find a bar that serves the Ballantines 17 before I shell out the dollars for an entire bottle. Perhaps Murray's endorsement will inspire a few of the local establishments to offer it.

    - Paul M.

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  9. Jim Murray's recommendations I suspect have tremenous powers of persuasion upon consumers. He's an expert and makes a living rating whiskies, so naturally many will defer to his opinion.

    In any case, you definitely want to try it in a bar, if possible, before shelling out for it. It's not cheap.

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  10. Jason,

    JT here again. The bottles came in. Unfortunately what I thought was the Hibiki 17 was actually the 12 and the merchant was slightly misleading but no harm done. It is an interesting whisky regardless so no real complaints here.

    The Royal Salute will be opened this weekend for a special event and I truly cannot wait! I'll be certain to drop you a line after I've gotten into the bottle a couple of times.

    Regards,

    JT

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  11. JT, I suspect the Hibiki 12 wont disappoint given the price and peer group. There are too many exported Japanese whiskies that make it to the US that are disappointing.

    Royal Salute is a great one! I wanna read your impressions when you are ready.

    Cheers!

    Jason

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  12. I really fail to see the point of a blended Scotch being more than 10 or 12 years in age. If they are trying to tout blends as 'premium', punters must be best advised to look at a single malt instead.

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  13. Raith, I think the reason drinks companies keep producing blended scotch with old age statements than 10 or 12 years has to do with the misconception of the average consumer that older is better.

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  14. Jason,

    JT here again. The Hibiki 12 was better than I expected. I got caught in the trap of expecting the 17 and preparing myself for disappointment. It is FAR better than the common 12-year blend benchmark - JW Black. Very smooth, interesting palate that you don't find in non-Japanese (if that's a word) blends.

    The Royal Salute, I must report, was a bit of a disappointment. It had the opposite effect of the Hibiki. I had placed it on a pedestal that, I fear, was unreachable. Yes it is incredibly smooth and a delicious Scotch in its own right. I need to taste it again in the coming weeks but my initial impression is that there were very few discernable flavors. Everything kind of melded together in a great symphony but there were only a couple of notes that I could detect individually.

    I spoke with a co-worker who adores Royal Salute and my conclusion is that I am a peat man. I have yet to taste a whisky that intrigued and excited me as much as Lagavulin 16. The boldness is amazing yet every flavor is discernable, and there quite a few of them! Any suggestions on a good Islay? I understand that I have probably had the best but I am certainly interested in what you have to say.

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  15. Hi JT, thanks for posting your impressions of the Hibiki 12. Yes, excellent eh?

    As for the Royal Salute, it is very good, but if you are a peat man, you may be let down a bit because the flavor profile is very much the classic Speyside type of honey, nuts, and toast with a little sea salt and teensy peat. Great stuff nevertheless, but great in terms of blended scotch. It will not stand up to the great single malts just as a Ferrari is faster than a Chrysler Kcar. Two different animals as you know.

    As for incredible Islay to consider, may I suggest Laphroaig Cairdeas. It actually edges out Lagavulin 16 maybe as the best of the Islay's I have tried. Literally explodes on the palate with sweet peat, smoke of branches lit next to a beach with sea air. Hmm. You wont be disappointed.

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  16. Jason,

    I would be very interested indeed to see a regional best-of breakdown from you. You know, hear what you think is among the best of the Highlands, Speyside, etc.

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  17. Hello Anonymous, I will try to post such a list in the next day or two.

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  18. I have a bottle of Ballantine's Liqueur Blended Scotch Whisky. This bottle is in it's original box, by appointment to The Late Queen Victoria and The Late King Edward VII. The bottle is 4/5 quart 86 proof 100% scotch whiskies 17 years old when boxed.Blended & bottled by George Ballantine & Son Limited, Distillers are Glasgow & Dumbarton, & Elgin of Scotland, Imported by "21" Brands, INC., New York. N.Y. The number on the bottle stamp for taxes paid is 09205601. On the bottom of bottle is WX234 Bottle maid in Scotland 3, Can anyone tell me the date and what if any is it's worth. Thank You , Donald sullivandonald507@gmail.com

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  19. if your review was on the bottle pictured, that is the old blend, not the one jim murray gave the award to.new one is much better.

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  20. It is possible that my bottle (pictured above) was the year bottling prior to his review. I will look into it and get back on this point or update the review to reflect that point.

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  21. FWIW, my opinion, as an amateur expert :), is in between your and Jim's. This is one of the finest blends I have tasted (much, much better than JW Black Label, if I may), BUT it's true that calling it the 'nectar of gods' may be stretching it. First of all, no blend can be truly called a nectar. There are a number of blended malts that are more complex and richer than this, the Blue Label and my favorite of all, The Famous Grouse 30 yo are true nectars (for me, I don't know about the gods). Most single malts of this age are more concentrated in flavors as well and may excel in some ways, but may not be as well balanced (that is, or should be, the strong point of premium blends).

    Tudval

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  22. Tudval, Famous Grouse 30 is indeed nectar, a stunner if there ever was one. Stops me dead in my tracks, has me stupefied by its beauty! Makes Ballantines 17 taste like Pine Sol.

    Anyhow, thanks for commenting!

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  23. every time i decide im going to shell out the $$ and buy an older blend a negative comment just throws me off. I have not even tried Walker green due to a 'clipping' or 'metallic' comment.
    Famous Grouse 18 on whisky exchange gets good sherry comments.
    i do love ballintines refine, creme, lemon all going on and that smoke finish.
    im also can of tobacco and old leather notes.
    Anyone know will that 17y from way back in 50s or 40s would be far far Superior to the current?

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  24. Blended scotch with upper end (ie. 15yr, 17yr, etc) can be very good. Famous Grouse 18 is excellent as well as Hibiki 17. So too is Johnnie Walker Green 15yrs. However, there are many disappointing blends with advanced age statements.

    With respect to your question about whether or not the current Ballantines 17 beats the 17yr bottling of the 50's, I cannot answer.

    I suspect that since you like the standard bottling of Ballantines, you will enjoy the 17. Cheers!

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  25. what you recommend.single, blend, or vatt?
    Ballintines 17 -for cereal notes, barley sugered. how i know store is selling the JimMurray bottle. i think this one was to rest long before drinking it.

    HP12 (like refine Teachers but with mocho notes. i do not want an old pulteny like that do butty dry for me to get though.)do not like just honey soft if no other textures dont come in.

    Walker Green. is there lot malt in mouth then black. and is there biscuity vibrant honeyed fruit cake notes) I do not want a big spirit reek in the bottle and a thin little notes you have to search for.

    last malt i liked. was 1st sherried cask too, glendonarch 15. cant find any local but could keep searching as not offense on palate. want to try the 12.

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  26. I just tried the latest bottling. It is the one without the neck label and the large central 17, as per the image above. It is rather stunning. I was worried I might not like it much, but now I am worried about not being able to stop drinking it. You have to like the style though...this is Elegance, not Power. JM is vindicated. My only criticism is the nose is weak, but you do get a very long finish. I would like to try this as a Malt Blend, maybe their 12 is close? Jason, will you be checking out the new bottling?

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  27. Just found this...fantastic...an entire book on Ballantine's 17 ! http://www.suntory.co.jp/whisky/Ballantine/index-e.html

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  28. Hiker Man, I do not have any plans to review Ballantine's 17 again any time soon. This is due to the fact that it is not available where I live and so I have to get a friend to pick up a bottle during their travels to where it is available.

    Nevertheless, I will do my best.

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  29. I will send you a wee dram if you like...

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  30. Sounds like a plan! Email me at jasondebly@gmail.com and I will look through what I have and send you something too.

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  31. Hi Jason,

    I just finished tasting the Ballantine's 17 Year's and put it on my blog. I found it to be a smooth and decent though too expensive blend. I nosed and tasted a lot of individual components but someway or the other I got a bit lost along the way. I couldn't find a perfect balance between the components.
    Saude
    Jan

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  32. Hi Jan,

    I think it is pleasant enough blended scotch, but just not the best nor even in the top 10 best whiskies.

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  33. Jason,
    Great review. Unfortunately this one is not available in my state. I can special order the Ballentines 12 year old, but they say it can take 2 months or more. Have you had it?

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    1. I haven't had it. Unless you are a real blended scotch fan, I would pass on it. For the same price point you could be enjoying a lot better single malts.

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  34. Jason,
    Have you tried the 12 year old version? I just got a bottle of it and its great stuff. I'll do a review on it soon...

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    1. Nope. Can't say it is at the top of my list at this point. I will look out for your review.

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  35. Jason,
    I work in a restaurant and we are having a discrepancy about which glass to serve single malts in??? can you help

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    Replies
    1. The Glencairn whisky glass is the proper glass. A search on Google will turn up some vendors.

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  36. my vintage pint b17 has no alcohol abbreviation.

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    1. Must be quite old. Unfortunately, older blended scotch as what you may have are generally not worth more than $100 - $200. I would rather get a new bottle and do a side by side comparison with your old one and note the differences.

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  37. I don't know what to say... I did'nt event know this Jim Murray guy before I tried the Ballantine's 17, and ever since I consider it being the most fabulous beverages I ever drank. Maybe I should expand my knowledge to other great whiskies you are talking about, but what I can say about Ballantine's 17 is that it is the most _pleasurable_ whiskies I ever had, regardless of everything else. Maybe there are better drams out there... and I'll be glad to try them. But so far I quite agree with Jim Murray's review. I can't help myself but love this spirit.

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  38. Having read your comment about Hibiki 17, I have to agree. Having recently returned from a trip to Japan, where I was fortunate enough to visit the Yamazaki Distillery. I must say that Suntory, with their Yamazaki, Hibiki and Hakushu whiskeys; are producing some of the finest whiskey I've ever tasted.

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    1. Glad to hear you agree. Others need to lift that conviction that only Scotland produces the finest whiskies. Japan has been proving such a view to be flawed for a long time. I think the next country that will do it over the next decade is India. Amrut Fusion Single Malt is great!

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  39. New master blender. Hence change in color. You are missing cocoa on thee palate and finish. Plus the finish is longer. I've had three bottles I the past four years and can definitively say you are comparing apples and oranges. Please do you research before writing an amateur review.

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  40. I came acorss your review looking to send something on the whisky to a friend.

    Interesting review. I see several of your points but having tried both versions of the the Ballatine 17, I agree there was a signifcant improvement from 2010. What I agree with is your idea that the only opinion that truly matters is your own. reviews are a good resource and if you find a reviewer whose taste is similar to your own then they are an even better resource. I find it unreasonable to tell someone else what they like or should like but not so to suggest what they may like. I also agree that to say this was the best whisky above all others is a bit much. At the same time to give a best whisky of the year award is fine with me and to me means something new to try which is a good thing.

    You have made some solid suggetions for other whisky's in the range. Of note Royal Salute which I also enjoy a lot is about twice the price in my locale. Only proving the point about differing tastes and palates I reframe from giving an opinion about any of the Johnnie Walker products I to put it mildly they do not sit well with my tastes, nor does the single malt Cardhu the basis for Johnnie Walker.

    It is perhaps interpretation but I do not see complexity the way you do here. I might argue that a good blend can and often does have greater complexity than a single malt due to variety of tastes that it can contain and if blended right to allow them a level of distinction and not be homogenized. The advantage to a single malt I see is the distinction of nose and taste. This breadth versus depth is what I have seen between blends and single malts. I understand the idea that you are perhaps discussing the complexity of the individual notes as opposed to my take on the different number of notes. So just a thought.

    About the whisky itself and my thoughts; I think it is tremendous whisky with deep rich flavours pleasing to a wide range of palletes and suitable to variety of occasions. I would suggest that as it is in the fruit, carmel range possessing a full smooth flavour that those who favour the Islay and partivcularly the more robust types may find as much enjoyment. In my area it is neither cheap or expensive for a good whisky, I would and have recommended it.

    Frank

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    1. Frank, I sincerely hope you will comment more often. Thanks for taking the time!

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  41. Hello, i am at odds with this whisky and like the previous poster i think everyones tastes vary and preferences therefore vary. I find this scotch had a shorter finish than i like and a weak slight maltyness/sweetness with strong spice/citruis with a bit more alcohol than i like at the end of the finish. $90 vs $70 for johnnie green an $65 for cragganmore both of which i think are blended better and have more pronounced and even flavours with better finish. I think a lot of people bash the johnnie product but after tasting lots of whiskys i keep going back to johnnie green, gold 18yr, xr21 neat, double black for a mixer. Among that chivas 18, cragganmore 12 (that i rate a little above green label), and dimple 15 for a chep neat. I keep all of them at home. And sometimes buy a 200ml johnnie blue too picy to keep. Dont like glenfiddich, glenmorangie, talisker, lagavaulin, or any sherry/wine influence/strong citrius/strong spice scotches

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  42. Except the whiskies you prefer to Ballentine 17.... cost twice as much. So it's not a fair comparison?

    Have you tried Campbeltown Loch 21 ? costs around £67 UK. Pretty fine, however as you say it has that 'rounded out' profile.

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    1. i think the comparison is fair because the evaluation is based what is the best whisky in the world? If that is the metric, then price is irrelevant.

      It shows how absurd it is to declare that Ballantine's 17 is the best whisky in the world with whiskies that cost many times more and are far superior.

      Have not tried the Campbeltown 21, but have heard good things.

      Thank you for commenting!

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  43. I think you might be letting your single malt biases get in the way. Jim is simply saying this is what he considers "best" that particular year. Someone of his standing most likely has tried all (or most) of the other styles out there, and isn't limited the same way someone who only sticks to one might be. Plenty of blends can be just as good, and even better, than single malts. It just depends on what you're looking for. How can someone's preferences or experiences be wrong?

    Alas, I haven't been able to find either Ballantine's 12 or 17, here...

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    1. Hi!

      I actually rank a blended whisky as the finest i have ever tasted: Hibiki 17yrs.

      I don't think I am biased, but hey your opinion is well your opinion. I think there are whiskies with discernible quality and others with lesser quality. Ballantines 17 is a fine drink but in that year there were so many others that were the best.

      As for Jim Murray, just because he is a published author does not mean he is necessarily right.

      Thanks for commenting though and I hope you find a bottle eventually.

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  44. Have you tried the Ballyn. 12yr ? They've taken over $10 to bring it down to $40... same as JW Black I'm tempted to grab tomorrow when get the Glenlivet 18.... thoughts?
    AL

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    1. I have not tried the 12 and not likely to do so as I am not really a fan of the standard bottling or the 17.

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  45. Wow !! the 17 yr is over $90 down here !! It would want to be pretty special for that amount of $$.
    AL

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    Replies
    1. Definitely not worth it!

      I would not pay a penny over $45.

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  46. Hi Jason. Nice post. I have a bottle of Ballantine's 17 (blue box) in my cabinet. Are you sure Jim Murray was writting about new Ballantine's 17 and not the old one (red box that you reviwed). Friend told me that in the Murray's WB alcohol stated for Ballantines 17 is 43%. Old one have 43%, new one 40%.

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    1. It's really hard to say. I suspect Murray was reviewing the one I had as I bought mine immediately following publication of his Whisky Bible.

      If the new one is a mere 40% ABV that will impact the flavor profile and not for the better.

      The bottom line is that Ballantine's 17 is good, but not the greatest and Murray's declarations as to the "Whisky of the Year" have little or no rational basis.

      Cheers!

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  47. Agree. He is taking care of his business, that's all.

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  48. OK. I went and bought a WB 2016. So,, there is a sign for retasted- no change and he is writnig about finish becoming longer with recent bottlings. Balance is " now only slghtly less weighty than of old" and " after a change of style, it has comfortably revert back to it's sophisticated, mildly erotic old self." (erotic WTF) So, it seams score of 97, 5 is for both, old 43% and new 40% expresion.
    It will be interest comparing Ballantin's 17 and Royal Salute 21 side by side.

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    1. 97.5 for both old and new bottlings even though one is at 43% and another is at 40%? Crazy!

      I like Royal Salute 21, but my last bottle was a real disappointment, but I truly think I just got an off bottle that sat on a shelf in direct sunlight in a shop. My brother picked it up. If it was me would have got a different bottle.

      Lemme know how your tasting goes between the Ballantines and the Royal Salute. my money is betting you will like the Salute more.

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    2. Yea, I know. In our local whisky shop they have old and new Ballantine's 17, but I am not into buying old one.
      I will. Hope I like them both as I liked Glencadam 19 I tried a couple of days ago. It was fantastic.

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