Bought: Waitrose, 14th June 2016
97.5/100 in the Whisky Bible is as high as it gets from the author Jim Murray. No other whisky, be it a blend, single malt, vatted malt, single grain or bourbon scores higher. This sounds fantastic until you realise that Mr Murray’s review of the Ballantine’s 17yo is at least 6 years old. The score of 97.5/100 has been kicking around in the Bible for quite a while so you have to think the blend has changed a bit over the years. Back in 2009 the Bible had the Ballantine’s 17yo scoring 90.5/100, which is still an excellent score. It may or may not be the best blend in the world but whatever is in my 2016 bottle is still going to be excellent stuff.
Ralfy’s video review is also quite old (2010) but certainly worth watching. Over 83/100 on Whiskybase is a better than average mark. Saying that, one voter that scores the Ballantine’s 83/100 comments “a premium blend, but a bit bland.” And another voter within the last year remarks, “it’s a nice blend but it’s a bit dull, monotonous whisky taste”. Oh dear.
Finding recent reviews of the Ballantine’s 17yo is hard so I turned to Amazon where it scores 4.5/5 stars from 13 reviews. Comments made in 2016 include “as good as a single malt”, “this is the best blend I’ve ever tasted, a must have for blend lovers” and “superbly smooth, almost too smooth. Real mouthful with no kick”.
I’m much more of a single malt drinker so when I finally crack open this bottle of Ballantine’s 17yo I want it to be after I’ve tried a wide variety of blends. It wouldn’t seem fair to judge it based on my current limited knowledge, especially if this is as good as blends get.
Here’s Ralfy with his review on You Tube (December 2010):