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  1. #831
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    Quote Originally Posted by ebo View Post
    I have a bottle of Ballantine's Finest that I've had for 3 years. It doesn't taste horrible, but it just isn't anything I want to drink... very boring and uninteresting. I usually opt for JW Black for an affordable pour, and I have to be out of single malt to drink it...lol.

    I much prefer single malt over any blends that I've had... and I've had quite a few. You're right, most blends taste similar. I call them the kitchen sink whisky... some of everything. Unfortunately, for the most part, I find them all to be very boring.
    I see it in a completely different way. Although I greatly prefer single malts, as a rule, there are lots of wonderful inexpensive blends out there, and I don't buy them just because they're cheap (though it does help my whisky budget when I'm burning through expensive bottles of single malt). As Megawatt Mike said, comparing SMS to blended scotch is like comparing apples to oranges, though I must say that I am far less ambivalent about them than he seems to be. To each his own. While blends may seem a bit homogenous at times, careful consideration can tease out loads of incredible flavors, especially when you're drinking the better blends (Famous Grouse, Ballantine's Finest, etc.). I also don't find them particularly thin, they only come off thin if my frame of reference is a hearty single malt. (For that matter, I love the flavor of Ardbeg 10 but find it thin as hell, which I've ranted about many times before). If one were to make a comparison, Irish whiskeys are much closer in flavor, body and texture to blended scotch than single malts, yet people tend not to look down on them in the same way. I've never quite understood that.

    I love Johnnie Walker Black and always have a bottle on hand, but it costs $25 which gets me a 1.75L bottle of Ballantine's Finest with change to spare. And when I'm drinking it, I don't feel as though I'm "settling" for something boring or uninteresting. When in the mood I can find plenty to enjoy, even if Ballantine's (or any other blend's) charms are more subtle. I have to be drinking Passport or Clan MacGregor to feel as if I'm really wasting my time, but those blends are light years more bland than the ones we've been discussing.

    I've mentioned this before but it's worth repeating that Jim Murray wrote a terrific short essay on the virtues of blended scotch whisky in the 2009 Whisky Bible. It can be found in the section of the book that precedes his reviews of the various blends, and far better articulates what I'm trying to say here on the matter. And here's something else worth reading:

    "Ballantine’s, the world’s No. 2 range of blended Scotch whiskies, is raising a celebratory dram to the news that whisky connoisseur Jim Murray has named Ballantine’s Finest as the Scotch Standard Blended Whisky of the Year. The awards have been published in Jim Murray’s 2009 Whisky Bible, an annual publication that is regarded as the world’s most influential book on whiskies from around the world.

    Ballantine’s Finest, the leading Scotch whisky brand in Europe with the No 1 position in 12 countries, contains more than 40 different malts from the four renowned whisky regions of Scotland – Islay, Highlands, Speyside and Lowlands. Its elegant signature style is a balance of soft and sweet, due to the key malts Glenburgie and Miltonduff.

    As a standard blend Murray describes Ballantine’s Finest as “a major work of art” and adds that only by taking a mouthful can you “experience the work of a blender very much at the top of his game”. He goes on to describe the blend as “a playful balance and counter-balance between grains, lighter malts and a gentle smokiness”.
    "I distrust a man who says 'when.' He's got to be careful not to drink too much, because he's not to be trusted when he does." Sydney Greenstreet

  2. #832
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    Oct 2007
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    Flamborough, Ontario
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    766

    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    While we're on the topic of blends, I'm having a glass of Johnnie Black and enjoying the heck out of it. Picked it up on sale for $39. Here are some notes from a glass I had last night:

    Nose
    Not as peaty as I initially thought. Very sweet. Vanilla, some sort of cherry-flavoured candy, with a tarry background. Hints of Glenkinchie and Talisker emerge.

    Taste
    Warm and peaty, becoming sweeter. Dried fruit (raisins). Slightly floral. Quite lovely. A soft grain bite.

    Body
    Medium.

    Finish
    Sweet. Persisting fruit, but with an herbal dryness. Medium length.

  3. #833
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    Ok... I had a pour of Ballentine's last night. It wasn't nearly as bland as I remember it... three years ago...lol.

    Maybe I've become a single malt snob, I don't know, but I still found the Ballentine's to be nothing special. I like Johnny Black too... I always have a bottle of it, but I have to pay $35.00 for it. For $5.00 more, I can get a bottle of Ardmore Traditional Cask. I'll take that any day over JW Black.

    If Ballentine's is held in such high regard amoung blends, why is it so cheap? I can get it for $11.00 and change. Maybe I should be asking why JW Black, Chivas, Dewars, etc... cost so much?

  4. #834
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    Quote Originally Posted by ebo View Post
    Ok... I had a pour of Ballentine's last night. It wasn't nearly as bland as I remember it... three years ago...lol.

    Maybe I've become a single malt snob, I don't know, but I still found the Ballentine's to be nothing special. I like Johnny Black too... I always have a bottle of it, but I have to pay $35.00 for it. For $5.00 more, I can get a bottle of Ardmore Traditional Cask. I'll take that any day over JW Black.

    If Ballentine's is held in such high regard amoung blends, why is it so cheap? I can get it for $11.00 and change. Maybe I should be asking why JW Black, Chivas, Dewars, etc... cost so much?
    Ballantine's is a 3-year-old blend. Those others you mentioned are 12-year-old blends. Voila.

    Unless you are talking about Dewar's White, which shouldn't cost any more than Ballantine's Finest.

  5. #835
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Megawatt View Post
    Ballantine's is a 3-year-old blend. Those others you mentioned are 12-year-old blends. Voila.

    Unless you are talking about Dewar's White, which shouldn't cost any more than Ballantine's Finest.
    Now I just feel silly. I never thought about age .

    I'm not really trying to say that blends are bad or inferior to single malts... just that I find them all to be somewhat similar in the taste profile. Like I said, I haven't tried the more expensive blends. I'm sure they are very good, but, if I'm going to spend $80.00 or more on a bottle, I'm certainly not going to spend it on a blend.

  6. #836
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    I like blends, but you gotta know what you're gettin. Grain with malt. 95% of the Scotch business. It's always gonna be user friendly, chill-filtered, and not as interesting as a cask strength non-chillfiltered single malt. For those reasons, I usually opt for the single malts at cask strength, or at least non-chill. That being said, blends can be a nice alternative. Just a lil to wee for me usually.

  7. #837
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    May 2005
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    Then you are going to miss out on some outstanding drams. The latest Campbeltown Loch 30 is only $50 list and even with shipping from the UK under $80. Cutty Sark 25 was voted the best whisky in the world in 2003 and my all time favorite blend is the Whyte & Mackay 30($210 from the UK but $300+ here). In the US the Black Bull 30 (~$170) is outstanding and the new (UK only) Black Bull 40 is even better at about $180 delivered.

    Quote Originally Posted by ebo View Post
    Now I just feel silly. I never thought about age .
    ..I'm sure they are very good, but, if I'm going to spend $80.00 or more on a bottle, I'm certainly not going to spend it on a blend.
    Illuminati in training

  8. #838
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    Balvenie Madeira Cask 17 yo is tonight's dram.
    Illuminati in training

  9. #839
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    I agree. The Bull is awesome. Also, The Last drop was ridiculous but a vat IIRC. Also the new Sheep Dip Vat.

  10. #840
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    Re: What Wee Dram are you enjoying now?

    That Last Drop was way overpriced and not as good as I would have thought. However, the host who bought it liked it enough so I guess that made it OK for him. Haven't had the new Dip but I have an old one on the shelf. Wouldn't take much to improve it. Reminds me I need a Pig's Nose to set next to it.
    Illuminati in training

 

 

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