Ballantines is a blended scotch whisky that is commonly exported. Because it is a scotch, it is made in Scotland – Dumbarton to be specific. It has held some very important titles over the years, including the number one brand in Europe as well as being the third largest distributor in 1986. There are other brands of scotch that has taken its title away in the past few years, however the flavor remains something to be recognized by scotch drinkers the world over.
The Ballantines Scotch whisky traces back to as far as 1827, when George Ballantine set up a grocery store in Glasfow. The concentrated primarily on wines and spirits, where he also started creating some of his own blends. Many people were seeking these blends as world traveled and George turned it into a business with his son George junior known as "George Ballantine and Son Limited." They set it up to begin exporting and the business thrived under George junior.
The company was sold over the years, including to Hiram Walker in 1937, however the product always maintained the Ballantine's name. Here, the company focused on bringing scotch to much of Europe, something that had never really be done before.
There are many distinct malts and grains used within Ballantines and the distilleries always have a master blender to oversee the recipes. As of 2006, the company had only recently appointed their fifth Master Blender in over 190 years of history.
Ballantines produces six varieties of scotch under its name that range in age significantly. Throughout the varieties, the flavors, too, can be anything from sweet to spicy to smoky. The ages include:
There are two 12 year old scotches, one as a blended and one that is a vatted "pure" malt. The 17 year old is a blended while the 21 year old is also blended but brings in a smoky heather aroma. The 30 year old is the richest with a little oak influencing the flavors. There is also what is known as finest, producing a sweet and complex flavor. Any bottle of Ballantines you pick up, you are enjoying the same flavors that were created when they first went into business.
When you want to truly enjoy Ballantines, you don't want to add a bunch of extra flavors to the whisky. It is already very complex, which contains multiple malts and four grains. It is best enjoyed right over ice or blended with a little club soda. By not adding anything with flavor, it is possible to enjoy all of the natural characteristics that makes the scotch so tasty.
If you did want to turn it into a cocktail, the most popular would be the Rusty Nail. You would take a rocks glass and fill it with ice. Pour two shots of Ballantines and one shot of Drambuie in, mix a little and enjoy. This drink is effective since Drambuie is also in the scotch family. There