Ballantine’s 12 – Glenburgie Distillery

This trip started by catching an early train from Falkirk to Inverness via Stirling.  Getting on the train at Falkirk Jim met up with Lucas Dynowiak and Jason Thomson, both from the Edinburgh Whisky Blog and we all enjoyed plenty of Whisky chat and coffee. On arrival in Inverness we were met by a coach which took us to Glenburgie Distillery via the airport to pick up the London section of the party which included Ben Ellefsen from Master of Malt, Alwynne Gwilt from Miss Whisky together with staff from Richmond Towers and Chivas Brothers London.   ballantines-3

After a short coach ride we arrived at the Mosset Tavern, Forres and were met by the exuberant international Brand Ambassador Ken Lindsay who was our main host for our Ballantine’s 12 trip.

We had a good light lunch and headed of to the fantastic Glenburgie Distillery to start a grand afternoon of tours, tastings, a new treasure hunt feature and a blending session with the great Sandy Hyslop, Ballantine’s Master Blender (and believe it our not he is only the fifth Master Blender in over 180 years in this Whisky’s history).

The first part of the day was for Ken to take us a wee tour of the Distillery, but on this occasion, Ken is using us all as guinea pigs for a new type of tour which included a type of Treasure Hunt.

We had approximately five sections of the tour where Ken would stop and ask us a question about a certain part of production and if we got the answer correct we were all given a gift. Jim felt this was a great new idea for a tour, it did highly encourage the guests to get involved and interact, instead of on many tours most of a party would stay quiet and not ask as many questions as a tour guide would like.

It was a great tour/experience and enhanced by Ken’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the Ballantine’s brand.

The penultimate part of the afternoon was a special tasting/deconstruction of the Ballantine’s 12 by Sandy Hyslop.

Firstly Sandy gave us a short history of the Ballantine brand.ballantines-4

Way back in 1827 George Ballantine the son of a farmer opened a small grocery shop in Edinburgh from which he supplied a selection of Whiskies to a wide range of clients.

Now Ballantine’s blends are world known and very iconic. Number one in Europe and number two in the World.

Sandy went on to tell us about the grains and the Single Malts that are included in the Ballantine’s 12. With more that 40 Single Malts together with some extra special grain Whisky, Glenburgie Single Malt is he heart of this blend followed closely by some special Miltonduff Single Malt.

Sandy had laid out for us all six tasting glasses which contained the following, which were all diluted to 20% Alc/vol to help open up the aroma’s and flavours:-

Glass One – Ballantine’s Finest Unaged Blend.

Glass Two – A Single Grain Whisky Used in the 12 Year old Blend.

Glass Three – A Glenburgie 12 Year Old Single Malt.

Glass Four – A Miltonduff 12 Year Old Single Malt.

Glass Five – The full Single Malt mix used in the 12 Year Old Blend.

Glass Six – A Ballantine’s 12 Blended Scotch Whisky.

Sandy went on to tell us every drop of Glenburgie Single Malt is matured in first fill American Oak Bourbon Casks and that 95% of all of Glenburgie production goes into the Ballantine’s blends.

In 2003-2004 the Distillery was completely rebuilt on the original site at a cost in excess of £4.35 Million and now producing with six stills, a 7.5 ton mash tun and 12 steel washbacks.ballantines-2

We finished the afternoon by relaxing in the new Arthur Ballantine House and then Ken and Sandy then sat us down and handed out paper for us to put our predictions on. Ken gave out four questions and requested that we have a brain storming session and write down our predictions on each subject. Once completed all our predictions were placed in a small casket and hidden deep in one of the warehouses with a view that in a years time it will be opened and we can find out if any or all our predictions came true.

Everyone on this press trip was on a high due to the experience and information that Ken and Sandy had passed onto us all, and our next stop was Linn House for a grand diner and some special cocktails involving the Ballantine’s 12.

After checking into Linn House we all went to our rooms to freshen up and get into our Highland Outfits and headed down stairs for our first dram of Ballantine’s 12 of the day.

During our fabulous meal we were introduced to five cocktails specially created with Ballantine’s 12 and by a large majority the Perfect Serve won hands down.

For all you cocktail lovers here is what you have to do{-


50 ml of Ballantine’s 12 Year Old
12.5 ml of Lime cordial
3-4 drops of Angostura bitters
3 Lime wedges
Lemon slice


Pour 50 ml of Ballantine’s 12 Year Old into a highball glass along with 12.5 ml of lime cordial. Squeeze in three lime wedges and 3-4 drops Angostura bitters. Add ice, top with lemonade and stir Garnish with a lemon slice.ballantines-1

There you are one of The Whisky Boys favourite Whisky cocktails and we highly recommend that all our readers try this one.

To finish, one question that was asked of all of us, can Blends be equal or better than Single Malts. Jim and Nicola’s view is that Blends can and are better than many Single Malts. Many Blends especially premium and premium plus Whiskies are without doubt of exceptional quality and when The Whisky Boys do tastings we always include a premium blend as our first dram of the night. Blends should not be put at the back or side of a gantry, some of them need to be placed in prominent shelves alongside the Single Malts. Single Malts will still be the Whisky of choice by most lovers of fine Whisky but blends do have a place in your cabinet and on your drinks tray. So the next time you go to your supermarket to pick up a regular Malt, stop, look at the premium aged Blends and give one a try, you will be surprised.

Single Malts and Blends both having their own unique identities and flavours and each should be equally respected for the care and experience that it took to produce them. They should not be separated but be placed on the same pedestal as the wonderful products from Scotland that they are.

A BIG thanks to Paloma of Richmond Towers Communications for the invite and for all her hard work pulling it all together. Paloma’s organisation and logistics were faultless and it was good to finally meet, hoping it wont be the last time, so if the Whisky Boys can help in any way, just ask.

Also a BIG thanks go to Ken and Sandy for sharing some of their knowledge, it was joy to just listen, cheers, just going to pour a wee Ballantine’s 12 (or maybe two).

Check the whole story of Ballantine’s and all about their fabulous product range at Check our specialist Whisky shop below and certainly on-line for some great prices for these drams.

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