Review: Ballantine's 17

Ballantine’s 17

“The world’s most awarded 17-year-old Scotch!” This made me chuckle. Ballantine’s 17 is an older expression with (what I understand to be) a significantly tweaked recipe to Ballantine’s Finest, the ironically named entry-point into the brand’s house style. Unfortunately, like most mass-market blends we get very little other information to go on – in fact, the website would have to try very hard to tell us less about this whisky.

Another bottle that unfortunately doesn’t come into South Africa – once again being muled over by a very kind whisky buddy – and bottled at a pitiful UK-standard 40%. Also, a screw-top bottle, which is almost as shameful as the ABV. Onwards!

  • Nose:

Smells really, utterly wonderful. A big hit for fans of whiskies that taste like distilled old people – which is to say, those musty, antique furniture smells that some really great drams have at their disposal (3 Year Old Deluxe?).

I want to say “leather”. A hint of marzipan, but not overpowered. Ginger biscuits. Pears. Moist chocolate cake.

  • Taste:

Lovely, but truly a little too soft around the edges. Hope they bring this into the country and sort that out 🙂

Nevertheless, this pre-watered down version of Ballantine’s 17 is a very solid drink – one of those winter whiskies to be a little overindulgent with. Spicy and fruity in equal measure. A smattering of what could be some sherry cask floating around – a kind of raisins, mincepie quality on the finish. Quite herbal, but never medicinal (rare, that) and something like rosewater Turkish Delight forming the sweet component.

  • Water:



I have a real soft spot for aged blends. I think I owe it to my love of all things Johnnie Walker, with Black and Platinum Label really paving the way for my appreciation. Of course, being an aged-whisky-skeptic I view this as entirely coincidental – or perhaps, blending houses are simply reserving their best casks, their best batches and their best noses for older expressions where the cost can be justified.

Nevertheless, Ballantine’s 17 is a very enjoyable whisky, one to be savoured even at toddler-strength and shared with some mates. Way too expensive though. Cheers!

Ballantine’s 17
Quality: Good
Price: Pricey
See my rating guide here

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