The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Ballantine’s master blender on new whisky expression full of memories

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : April 25, 2023 - 15:57

    • Link copied

Sandy Hyslop, the master blender at Ballantine’s, poses for a picture next to one of the six bottles of the whisky producer’s new 40-year-old expression, Sandy Hyslop, the master blender at Ballantine’s, poses for a picture next to one of the six bottles of the whisky producer’s new 40-year-old expression, "The Remembering." (Pernod Ricard Korea)

Sandy Hyslop, the master blender behind Ballantine’s, visited South Korea to celebrate the global launch of the first edition of Pernod Ricard's premium whisky series, the 40 Year Old Masterclass Collection.

Marking his 40 years in the industry this year, Hyslop is widely known as the master blender of Ballantine’s, the Glenlivet and Chivas Regal. His job is to check the quality of what distilleries produce every single week, create new whiskies and manage the continuity and flavor of the company’s existing whisky brands.

“I (also) look after our inventories. We have over six and a half million casks in our inventories spread over 365 warehouses all over Scotland,” he said during an interview with The Korea Herald, held in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Monday.

Ballantine’s new limited edition 40-year-old whisky, dubbed "The Remembering," revolves around the history of the Ballantine’s brand, as well as the master blender who has worked in the industry for decades.

The 40-year-old whisky was made at the now-closed Dumbarton Distillery in Scotland, where Hyslop was given the opportunity to work with his predecessor Jack Goudy one day a week for around a year before Hyslop was appointed a master blender.

“The Remembering” is about reminiscing those first lessons, remembering that interaction (with Goudy),” Hyslop said.

Some of the flavors are also personal to Hyslop. The apricot flavor reminds him of going to his grandmother's house, where she made sweet homemade jam and preserves.

Hyslop called the launch of the new whisky a new milestone.

“I hope that it will become the benchmark all over the world for high-age luxury opulent whisky.”

About the whisky’s launch in South Korea, Hyslop said, “I think that Korea as a country has embraced Ballantine’s and loves Ballantine’s. They recognize the quality of the amazing whiskies in the Ballantine’s family, so we felt that it was only right that this was the place where the passion for Ballantine’s lies,” Hyslop said.

Ballantine’s currently plans to launch 108 bottles of “The Remembering” this year. Over the next four years, the brand will add four more expressions.

However, a limited number of bottles will be available given the scarcity and rarity of 40-year-old spirits. “If you think about the angel share, you're losing 2 percent every single year. By the time you get to 40 years old, you've actually lost 80 percent of the content of the cast.”

Of the 108 bottles of “The Remembering” edition, a total of six bottles will be introduced in South Korea. “When you consider the whole world, six bottles are a lot to be available only in Korea. We understand that Ballantine's is highly appreciated in Korea, and that is why we have given the significant allocation,” Hyslop noted.

On the overall taste of “The Remembering,” Hyslop said: “You get that big power sweetness and fruitiness which coats the mouth and gently fades away, and then you get that slightly dry toasted hazelnut flavor coming through just at the end.”

When asked to share how he enjoys Ballantine’s whisky, the master blender said: “I like it with a splash of water in it, but have to say I absolutely love a highball in a tall glass, double measure of scotch, big ice cubes -- small ice cubes melt far too quickly -- filled right up to the top with soda.”