Ballantines 17

Ballantines17

Distiller:
Ballantines

ABV:
43%

Colour:
Pale Gold

Review:
At first I was a little daunted with writing a review of Jim Murray’s Whisky of the Year 2011 but then I said to my self ‘Bah! Who cares what Jim thinks!’

Let me tell you what I think.

This is truly an absolutely brilliant blended whisky. It’s strength lies in delivering every single element in subtlety and perfect harmony.

The nose is like digging through a multi-layered dessert using a big fat silver spoon. The first layer is honey and a beautiful pudding. Dig deeper and you will find a thin layer of butterscotch and vanilla on top of which are thin slices of juicy, moist pears. (I’m drooling just writing this!). The base of the dessert is made up of delicate bran crumble pastry sprayed with just the slightest hints of something floral. One of the sweetest, most delicate noses you will find.

The palate is a full bodied, slightly oily, silken affair with your taste buds. As the first, more prominent, sweeter profiles start to fade there comes a mysterious complexity about this blend. The tiniest wisp of chocolatey smoke coupled with an elegant woody grace make this one of the most astonishing of spirit deliveries. The gentle spices and that gorgeous, but minuscule, after taste of a Cuban cigar box wrap up, what has to be in my books, the Whisky of the Year.

What? Jim already said that? Bah! Who cares what he thinks!

Rating : 94

Royal Salute 21

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Distiller:
Strathisla

ABV:
40%

Colour:
Pale Gold

Review:
I was a bit hesitant to try the Royal Salute 21, being wary of gimmicks and marketing led premium prices that dominate the upper end of the blends market.

What I discovered was an excellent surprise!

A fragrant and uncomplicated nose of pleasing aromas. The first thing you get is lemon and honey followed by a toffee sweetness. There is a faint touch of freshly cut grass and sugarcane accompanied by the tiniest wisp of smoke.

The palate is what the brilliant Strathisla Distillery is known for: toffee, vanilla and butterscotch. Some times it’s nice to go back to the tastes that lured me into malt drinking in the first place. As you savor this basket of sweetness a deft touch of smoke at the end reminds you that there’s an Islay in there some where.

This is an excellent blend which I feel is quite malt heavy; maybe that’s why it’s so smooth. At $150 it’s on the higher side but I think they compensate that with a pretty porcelain bottle and velvet packaging.

Rating : 90

Suntory Hibiki 17

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Distiller:
Suntory Hibiki

Colour:
Young Sauternes

Review:
The nose is very sweet and floral with touches of honey and lavender. Extremely sweet and scented. On a second sniff I got a smattering of nutty almonds. There is a hint of cereal in there some where. The palate is quite dry and extremely sweet but is overpowered quickly with spices. Adding two drops of water opens up the nose even more and delivers strongly on the palate. The spices are gone with the addition of water. The finish is very oaky and full of woody pencil shavings. A very nice dram

Rating : 88