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Ballantines Ballantine's Gold Seal 12 Years Old Special Reserve

12 Minis! - Part II

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

26th Aug 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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My alphabetical order is a bit out of whack, but I'm going to try to (roughly) adhere to it as we go through these minis. This is a Ballantine's 12 Year Old, but the label is very different from the current bottling, with "Gold Seal" and "Special Reserve" on the label. And, again, we are at 43% rather than the current 40% ABV. I suspect this may be from the 1980s, for which I'm all the happier.

The colour is a full gold. On the nose, in a similar vein as the Black & White, there is a mingling of juicy malt and vibrant peat. Again, we're in old school Scotch territory here. Damp musty library and smouldering campfire, with vanilla and some solid oak. Overripe peaches. Briny, like a sea-shore. Both sweet and savoury. Very nice, but nothing too complicated; it is a little shy though. Water seems to do very little.

On the palate, very smooth with thick malt, briny sea-spray and some herbal notes. Tropical fruits. Again, there is a well-managed interplay between peat and malt. Creamy mouthfeel, with a tamer toffee/vanilla combination. Well balanced, and with some kick. Water gives slightly more heat and spice, but not that much.

The finish is a little chalky with some pepper and a bit more peat (not much though). I do love these peaty old-school blends! This one is very enjoyable - perfectly balanced, if fairly straight-forward with no surprises. I tasted the current 12 Year Old at a friend's party in the summer and, if memory serves, was a little tamer though still had that thick maltiness. Although I greatly enjoy this, it lacks the subtlety of the 17 Year Old, and even the standard Finest I find has more complexity. But this is a classy, old-fashioned Scotch that my heart reaches out for.

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