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Ballantines 12 Year Old

Average score from 6 reviews and 22 ratings 82

Ballantines 12 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Ballantines
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Ballantines 12 Year Old

This whisky was another weeknight surprise session on the same night I tasted Glendronach 8

A few weeks back I got a taste of Ballantyne's 17 & it was a pretty great dram (I didn't take any notes). I was not expecting the maturity and presence that whisky had, there was a well balanced, fruity and herbal side and a well integrated peat/smoke glow. Very old school made me think of gentlemen's clubs, leather arm chairs, harris tweed blazers and a fireplace...ok maybe some cigars.

This bottling seems to have a completely different lineage and I believe it is more based on american oak barrels from what I can gather and the color (but who knows as these blenders love their E150).

Nose: Lemon meringue pie, Werther's originals, nutty vanilla and lemongrass. It has a nice malty presence, no intense grain notes like some blends

Palate: The taste flips from fruity to toffee and then from lemon to slight peat edge. Shortbread, five-alive citrus. Dried ginger, slightly herbal (Ricola), the toffee doesn't linger. There is a nice smoky/peaty touch (so slight but it's there)

The finish is brief, creamy a bit, the texture was fairly coating in the glass for a blend. With a higher ABV this would sing. A well balance blended Scotch, the slight smokey touch and light herbal side is the only thing in common with the 17 I would say.

I like this blend, very drinkable and priced a bit cheaper than JW black in my neck of the woods (which is one of my favourite blends). Not sure I would keep one of these around but it's a nice change of pace.

@Jules I hear you, it doesn't help that there are so many dull or uninspired blends. I tend to judge blends a little differently in that regard. I don't look for the same singular flavors or eureka moment than in drinking single malts.

I believe if they upped the ABV and we're a bit more daring it would really help their cause. A good example is Cutty Sark Prohibition or some of the Compass Box stuff.

Yes, most blends just don't 'jump out' enough, too little character for me. I want something memorable when I sit down withmy evening dram, and Blends just don't give me that. Compass Box might be the exception although I have never bought, just tasted. Their latest Flaming Heart is prob the best blend I have come across, but then they use only single malts... ie. no grain whiskey mixed in.

  • Nose: quite raw and peaty, dried fruits, caramel, butterscotch, black pepper and some white wine.
  • Pallet: Toffee, spicy, more black pepper, some smoke and peat, dried fruits come later, impressive.

  • Finish: quite hot, fruity and a little smoke some very pleasing nuttiness as well.

  • Mark 8.6

I really like this, i think getting a bottle is in order, its really pleasant, complex enough and for my pallet very satisfying. Water really didn't change the whisky for me. I like it

i felt strong peaty and leather..


Blended whisky with alot goin on. Nutty honey vanilla, citrus fruit, smokey ash, on arrival then drops off to short uneventful finish. Great blend for all seasons.

@PMessinger-when you can, try the Ballantine's 12 year old Special Reserve Gold Seal- at a higher abv, it's even better.

Thanks for the heads up I will keep an eye out for this one. I really liked this blend hope you have had good experience as well.:)


Like this a good deal. I am a big fan of the Ballantine's Finest, and this is just a notch or two up from that, mainly because of the extra age and the additional smoothness.

While I enjoy Finest on the rocks, this one could go either rocks or neat. Neat, lots of spice, some honey and (as previous reviewers have said) some pear and fruit.

Rocks, it loses some potency and becomes almost TOO smooth. I like my whisky with a bit of a bite to it, nothing harsh, but just a note that says, "I'm whisky".

Overall, an excellent buy and very tasty!


Today, I’m trying the Ballantines 12 Year Old Pure Malt. So no grain whisky was used. It is composed of no less than 40 single malts, including Glenburgie and Miltonduff.

The nose offers pears on syrup, marzipan, orange peel and fresh flowers. A bit of smoke, too. Darn, this is pretty good.

The medium bodied malt rolls over the tongue, slightly creamy. Nicely soft and fresh with some oak, cinnamon and ginger. For the sweetness, I make associations with oranges and vanilla, for the bitter touch I’d say almonds.

The finish is shorter than I would have hoped and ends on almonds.

Given the fact that a bottle is less than 30 EUR, this is a great whisky. The motto on the label says it well: ‘Amicus Humani Generis’ means ‘a friend for all’. I can relate to that. This is indeed a good whisky to put on the table when having a nice evening with friend (those you don’t want to break out a single malt for, that is). Thanks to Luca in Sicily for the sample.

Hi @markjedi1, it's good to know that someone else confirms my affection for Ballantine's 12. But now I wonder if I am missing something: my bottle actually says "blended Scotch whisky", and Ballantine's website confirms that grain whisky is added as well (so not a pure malt). Maybe you got ahold of a special vatted sample that is not listed on their website? But whatever is in it, this is indeed good stuff, and a bargain as well.

Whoops, I just checked the website again, and Ballantine's does indeed make a 12-yr blended malt (which I suppose now replaces the term "vatted"). Looks like I was initially thrown off by the incorrect bottle image in your review. Actually the use of the word "blended" by Ballantine's on both bottles, can be a bit confusing. But sorry for the confusion on my part.


Scotch blends are all good, as blends go … they are created and tested to perfection over many years … so how can I possibly review and critique a successful blend that has been around for decades !? The answer is that they are all different, and I can herein only let you know why I like this one quite a lot. Oh, and why bother with a blend at all !? Well, sometimes I just like a pleasant, tasty, easy-going drink, that is pretty much guaranteed not offend in any way. These are moments when I don’t need to be bombarded with a multitude of flavors, or engaged, excited, smoked, salted, or challenged by a one-time bottling. And in addition, more of my non-malty friends may join me for a drink. Blends do have their place … but of course all are not as congenial at the Ballantine’s 12.

It is interesting to note that the bottle for the 12 is bigger and heavier than the Finest … it’s those marketing people again! And, unlike the Finest, the 12 has one of those recalcitrant pour spouts, often found on Mexican brandy or rum bottles. I’ve read that this prevents refilling and re-offering the bottles with an inferior spirit. Though this spout usually adds a degree of adventure to your tastings (you never know how much will come out), the spout on my bottle luckily worked well. This plastic spout would also discourage drinking directly from the bottle :-)

After priming the palate with several other blends and light Speysides, I poured a couple samples which included the entry-level Ballantine’s Finest, which is a natural target for comparison. The Ballantine’s 12 label states that it is “fully oak matured”, whereas the Finest label just says “fully matured”; though I’m not sure what that means, it seems to somehow enter into the tasting results. No water was added.

Glass Nose: After leaving it rest: nicely pungent vanilla, caramel. After the 3rd taste … I get a nose of bourbon … pretty nice for a blend. The Finest nose was more citrusy and also very nice.

Empty Glass Nose: Pronounced and lingering butter, caramel and vanilla … reminds me of bourbon.

Palate: Strong opening of fruit and honey, butter and some caramel … sometimes a little spicy. There is absolutely nothing offensive, and each taste seems to become more enjoyable than the last. The flavor depth is deeper as compared to the Finest.

Finish: Medium to short, warm and satisfying finish, with no bitterness or any unpleasantries. The Finest was similar.

Conclusion: Though Ballantine’s 12 has less complexity and depth than even the lightest “Glen” malts, it is highly drinkable and quite enjoyable. It is quite different than Chivas 12 or JW 12, which I also very much enjoy, and instead of the usual “scotch blend taste”, has more of a whiskey character. At about 23 USD, the 12 is a useful addition to my collection. The Finest is lighter and more delicate, but is also a very pleasant drink and quite delicious. For a good review of the Finest see: connosr.com/reviews/ballantines/…

Ballantine’s also produces many expressions having greater years of maturity. But at these more mature prices, one now has to ponder whether a single malt would now be the better buy.

Ballantine’s 12 makes for a fine alternative for an entry-level Irish or Canadian blend, or even a light single malt scotch, and it is certaintly a best-buy in this category. I really enjoyed this tasting session.

Score 87/100 in the blend category.

great review @AboutChoice! i'm a major fan of blends and the Ballantines range is up there with the best. thank you as well for the reference to my review of the Ballantine's Finest, much appreciated! This 12 year old sounds fantastic, have you had the Ballantine's 17 year old? I highly recommend it - it seems the 12 year old is a weightier version of the Finest and the 17 is even more so, all operating within the same flavour spectrums. Am looking forward to posting a review of the 17 soon - in the meantime will be looking to get my hands on some of the 12!

@AboutChoice: I will certainly endeavour to do so, it's always an interesting topic of debate! In brief though I would say that I was just as inclined to spend a quantity of money on a blend as on a malt, as in the end it's all about the quality of the whisky in the bottle, no matter how it's made. For me the Ballantine's 17 is up there with anything in its price range, single malt or otherwise.

Speaking of the Ballantine's 17, shame it's not available in Michigan, would be interesting to see what you make of it following the Finest and the 12. I would be very happy to send you a sample though, would be no problem.

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