Ballentine’s 21 Year Old

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:

Ballentine’s 21 Year Old
Blended whisky


3, medal, silver icon

Creamy and oily
Best served:

A blend of many single malts, including malts from Miltonduff and Glenburgie

Delicate, calm, creamy, oily, floral (citrus blossoms), fruit (cherries, cranberries, mandarine, orange peel), orange liqueur and stone fruit marmalade, honey, nuts (especially Brazil nuts and walnuts), white chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa, cask driven sweetness, vanilla (custard, pastry rich vanilla slice), mixed dried fruit, yogurt drops

The waters are calm and peaceful, but there is so much happening beneath the surface – the creamy and rich whisky coats the palate with subtle nuances of cask driven sweetness, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit while sparks of life burst gently within soft oiliness – this artwork is far too complex to summarise.  

Tasting notes:
Jim Murray, one of the world’s foremost authorities on whisky, has announced that the Ballentine’s 17 Year Old is one of the finest whiskies in the world several years running, and in his Whisky Bible 2013 he awards it the title of the third finest whisky in the world. Ballentine’s 17 Year Old is excellent, but in my opinion the Ballentine’s 21 Year Old is a step up, and it delights my senses with its dense aromas and complex flavours that leave a tantalizingly long finish.

Ballentine’s 21 Year old is the second oldest offering in the Ballentine’s range, which consists of Ballentine’s Finest, Ballentine’s 12 Year Old, Ballentine’s 17 Year Old, Ballentine’s 21 Year Old and Ballentine’s 30 Year Old. 

Ballentine’s range

The Ballentine’s 21 Year Old is a step above the rest in the blended whisky market in almost every category. Unlike the Royal Salute, it did not seem lethargic but instead had energy, vibrancy and depth. Unlike the Black Bull 40 Year Old, it did not offer any moments that unbalanced the experience and instead it was ridiculously smooth while maintaining spark and power. Unlike the Johnnie Walker Blue Label, its finish did not fizzle and instead it remained buzzing on the tongue. Unlike the Ballentine’s 17 Year Old and many similarly priced single malts, it did not allow sparks of spirit to taint and sometimes outshine the other flavours and instead it offered pure harmony and a thick oily complexity that stayed on the palate for a long time – delicious! This whisky contains whiskies that are at least 21 years old, and it shows on the nose, palate and finish!   

Nose: When a flower on a fruit tree begins to bloom, it releases one of the freshest and most vibrant aromas I have encountered. The picture to the left captures a lemon tree that is beginning to flower, and the aroma of this whisky resembles the floral notes of a fruit tree – the sweet floral notes are interlaced with cherries, orange, lemon and green pear. The fruit, drizzled with rich vanilla custard, counteracts the oak influence that brings even richer cocoa. The vanilla is thick and rich, and also on the nose is white chocolate layered over walnuts which brings an oiliness. This is almost like smelling a bag of mixed dried fruit and nuts with white chocolate and yogurt drops, but with magical chocolate drops that morph and change from white to dark and then back again. 

Taste: On the palate this whisky offers a calm tide of flavour that progressively develops in intensity and complexity as the taste buds tingle with energy. This is amazing whisky, and beautifully crafted. It is creamy, fruity, floral, nutty, oily, sweet and spicy. The creaminess is reflected in the thick texture that coats the palate and releases luscious pastry rich vanilla slice that oozes with half cooked red cherries and one of my favorite preserves – cherry jam and orange marmalade with Cointreau. The floral notes shine on the palate too, with nuances of grass and petals that add sweetness to the otherwise herbaceous chorus of mint and basil. Heavier than the floral notes is the rich nuttiness, big and bold with hints of bitterness like the bite of a Brazil nut or a green walnut. Of course, those nuts are oily and so with that bite comes an oiliness that rekindles memories of Flaxseed oil – a nutty oil best served cold. Shining through the oil is a bright sugary cask driven sweetness carrying the vanillas and shades of dried fruit as the spices burst on the palate to add further spark and fireworks.  

Finish: The nutty oiliness lingers on the palate with polished mahogany and dried fruit. The balance is impeccable, and plumes of smoke lift up off the palate.  

Rich complexity, creamy and ridiculously well balanced with a finesse matching only the finest of Cognacs and yet, an energy and depth that ignites the senses
£82 (UK), $170 (Aus), $167 (USA)

One thought on “Ballentine’s 21 Year Old

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