Ballantine's Finest - early 1970s vs 2015
We thought it would be fun to compare a bottle of Ballantine's Finest produced this year, with one that was bottled in the early 1970s. Will there be much difference in the character and profile of the whisky? Will we detect any old bottle effect (OBE) - 'maturation' in the bottle? Both bottles were opened for this occasion, so there was no risk prior contamination or oxidation. The seal and screw caps on both bottles were in perfect condition.
Ballantine's is a range of blended Scotch whiskies produced by Pernod Ricard in Dumbarton, Scotland. The Ballantine's flavour is dependent on 50 single malts, four single grains and in particular the fingerprint malts from Miltonduff and Glenburgie. Ballantine's Finest is one of the best selling Scotch whiskies in the world.
Ballantine's Finest - bottled 2015, NAS, 43 %
Nose (18/25): Fruity with medium sweetness. Caramel, malt, apples, citrus. Appears quite young on the nose. New make, some alcohol.
Taste (18/25): Very smooth, but watery and thin. Pepper and some alcohol, not much else to be detected here.
Finish (19/25): Pepper and caramel - that's it. Short.
Balance (19/25): Too young and raw really. Not very impressed, although it is easy to drink.
Ballantine's Finest - bottled early 1970s, NAS, 43 %
Nose (21/25): This one opens as fruity as well, but it is more rich on the nose. Caramel, umami, slightly acidic, whiffs of smoke, a bit of perfume, apples, cinnamon, dust, and old leather. All in all a much more complex nose, although not a stunner. We do find some OBE, in the umami and soft acidity.
Taste (21/25): Smooth and watery - so this has not changed over the years. Very spicy; pepper and chili - smoked chili. A bit of peat, licorice.
Finish (20/25): Still very spicy, fruity and now slightly sour to taste. Umami. Short.
Balance (20/25): A clear winner, if a bit odd. Nose and taste did not quite match, but great fun! The biggest difference was the addition of some peat on this one, as well as lots of spices to taste here.
Sláinte! - Thomas