Ballantine’s 12 Year Old Trip – Part one

Ballantines selection

Okay. I’ll start here with an apology. This is possibly the most overdue blog post in the history of man (except my review of Dead Rabbit NYC, that’s more overdue). Things have happened since then, y’see. Things involving setting up new and exciting drinks distribution companies, developing a whole mess of new products, and the introduction of a mini sleep-terrorist into my house. These things have precluded me from doing what I should have done ages ago. The last one has also probably precluded me from spelling any words in this post correctly or being sure if my hands are, in fact, my hands. If you’re reading this, Ballantine’s-press-folk, you can have one free shot next time I see you, subject to the normal rules of course*.

Ballantines bottles

The Ballantine’s range

Back in June, the lovely folk at Ballantine’s were kind enough to invite me up to Linn House – Chivas Brothers’ stunning guest-lodge – for a tour of Glenburgie distillery. Glenburgie, y’see, is the backbone of Ballantine’s Blended whisky, which they are all about promoting. More specifically, and maybe even more interestingly, they are all about promoting the use of Ballantine’s 12 Year Old in cocktails, of all things… We’ll come onto that later.


Linn House

The View from Linn House. Shabby.

Now – I shan’t bore you too much with loads of distillery information, but I’ve got all these pretty pictures that I took, and it seems a shame not to use ‘em.

Malt Mill

Obligatory Malt Mill picture

Fun fact for you – like pretty much every distillery, Glenburgie uses a Porteus Mill. Porteus were the premier manufacturer of malt mills for distilleries back in the day. Porteus did their jobs rather well, all-considered, building fantastic machinery that never broke down, or needed replacing. Consequently, pretty much every distillery in Scotland bought one. After every distillery in Scotland bought one, there was no more need for Porteus, so they closed down. Not quite sure what the moral of that particular story is, but nevertheless…

100% unpeated barley by the way. No smoke. Yuk.


Ballantines production motivation

No prizes for guessing the main production motivation at Glenburgie

Glenburgie was completely re-built in 2004, coinciding with the need to up-scale production to cope with the extraordinary demand for Ballantine’s. This actually makes it the very first distillery to be constructed in the 21st Century.


Glenburgie mash tun

Foreground entirely taken up by 7.5-ton mash-tun. That’s almost exactly one imperial fuck-ton.

Mashing takes about 5 hours, and due to computerised wizardry, combined with careful strain-selection for the grain, Glenburgie is getting some of the best yields in the industry.


Glenburgie washback


The stainless steel Washbacks hold 36,000 litres, yielding an overall capacity of somewhere between 3m and 4m litres of pure alcohol per annum. It’s a pretty big distillery in the scheme of things. For comparison, Glenfiddich (massive) has a capacity of about 10m litres, and Kilchoman (teeny-tiny) has a capacity of only 90,000.


Glenburgie stills

3 Wash Stills, 3 Spirit Stills.

The stills are probably the only bit of the old distillery that’s been retained in the new building. Run-times are 5 hours for the wash stills, and 10 for the spirit stills.


Glenburgie spirit safe

Obligatory Spirit Safe Photo.

Interestingly, a pair of Lomond stills were installed in 1958, and used to produce Glencraig Single Malt right up until 1981 when the project was ditched and the stills scrapped. Some casks still remain in the hands of bottlers such as Signatory, and from what I’ve tasted, they’re worth a try…


Glenburgie dunnage

Traditional Dunnage warehousing housing only ex-Bourbon.

Glenburgie fill solely into ex-Bourbon casks. As the key blending component for Ballantine’s, consistency is important, and this is achieved through careful tracking of each cask’s age (not just the age of the spirit, but the age of the actual cask as well). As Ballantine’s master blender, Sandy Hyslop would later point out, there’s a hell of a difference between a second-fill cask that’s 6 years old, and a second fill cask that’s 80 years old, both of which they have in the warehouses.

At this point, we were ushered up to a room at the top of the distillery to answer a series of questions we’d been asked throughout the tour. I was nice enough to not only take photos of these questions, but to save all the prizes to give away to one of you lucky readers. I’ll tell you what *I* definitely didn’t do; *I* didn’t use the wonderful card-holder myself in the interim to carry my cards around in. Nope. Those would be the actions of a bastard.

Glenburgie prizes

Prizes. Lovely gift-wrapped prizes.

So I think at this stage we’ll take a short break and do a little competition, hmm? There are 4 questions below – the first to post answers to all 4 of them to Jake’s satisfaction will win all the lovely prizes pictured below. That and a bottle of Ballantine’s Finest blended whisky. It’s only fair.

Ballantines prizes

Ballantines Finest

Free items! Huzzah!

First question in Ballantines quiz

Second question in Ballantines quiz

Third question in Ballantines quiz

Final question in Ballantines quiz

Hand-modelling courtesy of the ever-lovely Miss Whisky

So – with the distillery our over, we moved onto the blending part. Be sure to come back on Thursday for the next thrilling instalment…

*Upper arm only, no run-ups, no rings.

Categories : Competitions, Scotch Whisky, Whisky

19 comments on “Ballantine’s 12 Year Old Trip – Part one”

  1. Blair says:

    1. Laich of Moray
    2. 100% Unpeated
    3. N2 C02 H2O
    4. Ex-bourbon

  2. Kristy says:

    1. Moray
    2. 100% unpeated
    3. It was hard for me to make out the choices here in the picture but here it goes CO2, Q=m x (T1 x T2) x C (heat), Wash. I didn’t see the chemical make up of sugar or alcohol C2H60
    4. Ex-bourbon casks

  3. Will says:

    1. Laich of Moray
    2. 100% unpeated
    3. CO2, Wash, H2O,
    4. Ex-Bourbon Casks

  4. Lamby says:

    1. Laich of Moray
    2. 100% Unpeated
    3. N2 C02 H2O
    4. Ex-bourbon

  5. jamie glover says:

    1. Moray
    2. 100% unpeated
    3. Wash, CO2, AND Q=m x (T1 x T2) x C
    4. Ex-bourbon casks

  6. Adrian says:

    1 moray
    2 Unpeated
    3 I ‘m struggling to read this but
    C6H12O6 C2H5OH CO2
    4 Bourbon

  7. Ben says:

    1. Moray
    2. 100% Unpeated
    3. C02, Wash, Q = m x (Tf – Ti) X C
    4. Ex-bourbon

  8. Adrian says:

    3CO2, Q=mx (Tf – Ti) XC, C2H5OH
    4Ex bourbon

  9. Owen says:

    1. Laich of Moray
    2. 100% Unpeated
    3. C02 C2H6O Wash
    4. Ex-bourbon

  10. 1. Moray
    2. Unpeated
    3. CO2, wash, the pink one (which seems to be heat) – the red one looks like it could contain something to do with alcohol but I can’t quite make out all the numbers…
    4. Ex-bourbon, including second-fill 6 year-old casks and second-fill 80 year-old casks

  11. Owen says:

    Woops, if I’m allowed to change my answer ( can’t work out how to edit my comment!)

    1. Laich of Moray
    2. 100% Unpeated
    3. C02 C2H6O r-c9h11n204s
    4. Ex-bourbon

  12. Chris says:

    1 Moray
    2 Unpeated 100%
    3 I can’t make this out and I’ve had my magnifying glass out…
    4 Bourbon

  13. jo mgl says:

    1. Laich of Moray
    2. 100% Unpeated
    3. C02 C2H6O Q = m x (Tf – Ti) X C
    4. Ex-bourbon

  14. Adrian says:

    1. Moray
    2. 100% unpeated
    3. Co2, Q=mx(Tf-Ti) X C, C3H10N3O2
    4. Ex Bourbon

  15. Adrian says:

    although for 3 above it could be C3H10N4O3 its just so blurry

  16. Adrian says:

    Q1 Moray
    Q2 Unpeated Barley
    Q3 Heat which is Q=mx(Tf-Ti)xC, wash, and CO2
    Q4 Ex Bourbon Barrels

  17. wafflesalot says:

    1. Laich of Moray
    2. 100% unpeated barley
    3. CO2, wash and heat, Q=mx (Tf-Ti) xCp (which is specific heat capacity) The other chemical componds shown are penicillin R-C9H11N2O4S and caffeine C8H10N4O2
    4. Ex-bourbon casks

  18. Well, well!!! Quite a few responses here, but I think we finally have a winner!

    Congratulations to Claire! (With extra marks for identifying penicillin and caffeine.) We’ll be in touch shortly about delivery of your prizes! (The card case especially seems quite nice, and is almost as good as new *ahem*.)

    Some of you came very, very close indeed, but as Connor McLeod says…


    [We nearly gave it to Ben who seemed only to have missed a fairly superfluous "p", before realising he’d also used a naught(/zero) in his "C02", tsk-tsk!]

  19. Ben says:

    Gutting, as a chemist I hang my head in shame!

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