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Whisky that is a little bit Scottish, a little bit American

Ballantine’s Bourbon 7

BALLANTINE’S latest product is a whisky that crosses continents and styles.

On the last day of March, right before April Fool’s Day, Scotch brand Ballantine’s launched Ballantine’s 7, a scotch whisky finished in American bourbon casks, via an online tasting session.

While both are technically whiskies, scotch is made in, well, Scotland, while bourbon is made in the United States. Also, while scotch is usually made with malted barley, US regulations (under the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits) stipulate that bourbon has to be made with a grain mixture of 51% corn.

The Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits says, “‘Bourbon whisky,’ ‘rye whisky,’ ‘wheat whisky,’ ‘malt whisky,’ or ‘rye malt whisky’ is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51% corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.”

Ballantine’s 7 Bourbon Finish is crafted from a selection of Scotch whiskies that are aged in oak casks for at least seven years before being finished in American bourbon barrels. The seven-year-old blend is a tribute to founder George Ballantine, who, as early as 1872, was ageing and selling seven-year-old whisky, long before the laws on ageing Scotch for a minimum of three years came into effect.

BusinessWorld got a taste of it during the online tasting hosted by the brand. Ballantine’s 7 definitely had that slightly charred scent of bourbon, albeit a little more gentle and creamy. The taste follows its scent, having the signature heat of bourbon, a nostril-clearing smoky hit (somewhat like mesquite and black pepper). A box containing the Ballantine’s 7 describes it as having tasting notes of red apples, ripe pears, and caramel; while scent notes are given as toffee apple, honey, and vanilla.

It feels like a rich boy dressing down to go to the seedier parts of downtown, but it’s still the same preppy underneath. It’s still a creamy Scotch at the end; just aggressively bourbon and American at the beginning. It makes sense for the brand to go in this direction: former US President, and Texan, Lyndon Johnson’s biography, The Passage of Power, recalls his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, enjoying Ballantine’s at Johnson’s Texas ranch. Perhaps this whisky distilled the taste of those days.

Ethan Miln, Ballatine’s Global Brand Ambassador, said, “You’ve got a sweet spot here — a marriage of Scottish and American flavors.”

Ballantine’s 7 Bourbon Finish will be available in Landers and at other leading stores like Landmark, Pioneer, and online sites like Boozy.ph. —  Joseph L. Garcia