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Our Story

Our Story
Ballantine's Finest served neat in glass

Let’s Start From the Beginning.

Our roots trace back to 1827 starting with a Scottish greengrocer named George Ballantine…

Birth of George Ballantine

1809

13 years later, George leaves home to start a grocer apprenticeship in Edinburgh.

George sets up shop

1827

After five years as an apprentice, 19-year old George Ballantine shakes things up in Edinburgh with a new grocery store in the Cowgate, a completely different part of Edinburgh from most of the other grocers.

Indenture Andrew Hunter & George Ballantyne

George moves into wine and sprits

1836

George turns his hand to the art of ageing whiskies specialising in quality, hand-selected malts. Time to open a bigger Ballantine’s shop, with a new grocery store in South Bridge.

Ballantine’s Shop and Drop begins

1857

George offers free delivery within 10 miles. Pioneering ‘shop and drop’ way before the age of internet shopping, requiring a need to expand the business again.

Ballantine’s goes worldwide!

1881

Ballantine’s shops and warehouses are now exporting Ballantine’s blended whisky to a worldwide market. George Ballantine retires and his two sons take over the family business. He passes away, a few years later. Gone, but thanks to his whisky, his legacy lives on.

George Ballantine & Son awarded the Royal Warrant

1895

Ballantine’s is awarded a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria. Or as we like to call it, the royal seal of approval.

The birth of Ballantine’s Finest

1910

The pursuit of perfection continues with the launch of Ballantine’s Finest. We’ve been staying true to our blending roots since.

Ballantine’s iconic bottle shape is introduced

During prohibition, we believe our square bottle was designed so that American salesmen could conceal a bottle or two of Ballantine’s Finest in their briefcases should the cops come calling. The unusual shape of our iconic Finest bottle is still being used today, but you shouldn’t have to hide it in your briefcase anymore.

Welcome George Robertson

1937

Master Blender George Robertson joins the Ballantine’s family. During his time at Ballantine’s George created the world’s first (and to this day most rewarded) 17 year old Scotch and the prestigious Ballantine’s 30.

ballantines-blender-george-robertson

Ballantine’s awarded its own Heraldic Arms

1938

Ballantine’s is awarded its own Heraldic Arms by the Lord Lyon. This crest is a true badge of honour and remains on every single bottle to this day. The crest features the Scottish flag and the four essential elements of whisky making – Earth (represented by Scottish barley), Water (from nearby fresh streams), Fire (which heats the mash in a copper pot still) and Air (which allows the whisky to breathe in an oak cask). Another feature that appears on every bottle is the Latin phrase, ‘Amicus Humani Generis’, meaning a friend to all mankind. A friend never lets you down.

Watch out for the geese!

1959

Talk about doing things your own way, back in the 1950’s our warehouses in Dumbarton were the responsibility of a civil engineer who was also a keen ornithologist. He suggested that keeping a gaggle of geese as a second line of security would be a viable alternative and less expensive than guard dogs. Beware the Scotch Watch!

Jack Goudy becomes Ballantine’s third Master Blender, teaching future blenders the importance of sourcing the best scotch and maturing it in the best American oak.

Ballantine’s 12 Year Old rings in the 60’s

1960

The launch of Ballantine’s 12 Year Old hits the sixties cocktail scene, taking whisky beyond the straight (and narrow).

Ballantine's 12 Year Old served neat

Ballantine’s 21 Year Old Launched

1993

Ballantine’s launches its 21 Year Old whisky.

Robert Hicks becomes Ballantine’s fourth master blender

1994

Jack Goudy’s protégé Robert Hicks becomes Ballantine’s fourth master blender.

ballantines-blender-robert-hicks

Welcome Sandy Hyslop

2005

Sandy Hyslop steps up to become the 5th Master Blender in Ballantine’s history. Sandy started in the whisky industry in 1983 and worked under both Robert Hicks and Jack Goudy. Sandy can detect many thousands of different flavours – so no aftershave is allowed in his blending room!

Ballantine’s becomes the world’s second best selling whisky

2007

Two years later Ballantine’s wins Gold in all 6 categories at the the Whisky Master awards. Slàinte!

ballantines whisky drinks

Standing up for True Music

2014

The start of a beautiful friendship. We partnered with Boiler Room and started on our True Music journey to bring our fans the best shows, beats and finest whisky.

Ballantines True Music Chica Gang
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