Ballantine’s Signature Distillery Collection 17 year are blends… that were designed to show off their component whiskies.
First up in our sampling was the Scapa from the Orkney Islands in the north Highlands, not far from the Highland Park distillery. Of the four Ballantine’s whiskies featured in the Signature Distillery Collection, Scapa has distillery produced single malts – initially a 14 year which was then replaced in 2008 with a 16 year avatar.
While not stated on the label, the gents over at Malt Madness share that Scapa is matured exclusively in bourbon casks. The whisky is unpeated though the water supply is known to be quite peaty, hence is piped for over a kilometre in large iron pipes to keep its more delicate quality.
Ballantine’s Scapa 17 year 40%
What we found:
- Nose – Piquant, lightly floral, almonds, hint of sea salt, light honey, some hay (sez the country gal whereas the city slicker couldn’t identify), as it aired slipped into a candy sweet with a drizzle of honey suckle
- Taste – Woody, earthier version of the nose, following the hay back to its roots
- Finish – Slight bite but general continuity of the nose and palate
- Comments – “Sweetness & light, rainbows & butterflies” “A demure romp in a meadow”
- Occasion – The kind of whisky you have when you want something light in the background but not requiring any focused attention.
Quite drinkable, linear nose, flavour and finish however all aligned and overall pleasant.
I will be honest, I expected something with a bit more of a maritime feel… When you think Orkney Islands, you think of sea spray from a wild remote corner. I recalled an earlier sampling of the Scapa 16 year it had more of that element… plus a distinctive heathery honey.
While I supposed we could morph the hay quality with the perfume notes into something in spitting distance of ‘heather’ and it certainly had the honey, we didn’t find the fruity quality the Ballantine’s folks describe or what I remembered from sampling its single malt cousin.
Here’s what the chaps over at Master of Malt have to say about this one:
- Nose: The nose is fruity and floral with icing sugar scattered on top.
- Palate: The palate develops orange zestiness with fleshy stone fruit flavours, notably peach.
- Finish: The finish is creamy and smooth with hint of nectarine and Seville orange segments.
- Overall: Another excellent seventeen year old Ballantine’s intriguingly displaying a stronger Scapa character.
Would I say it represents a ‘Scapa’ style or its contribution to Ballantine’s? Hmm…. It is easy to see why most of this whisky goes into a blend. It has a restrained quality that would play well with other profiles.
As for this expression? Does it stand on its own as a credible blend? It was ‘nice’ and definitely drinkable. However would I run out and buy a full bottle? Nope… just not my kinda whisky.
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