...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

NOT Single Malt Report: Hankey Bannister Original Blended Scotch Whisky

This is a hankie
This is a bannister
This is Hankey Bannister
I hope that cleared everything up.  End of report.



Or not.


Ownership: Inver House
Content: 30% malt whisky: 12 to 15 malts including Balblair, Balmenach, Knockdhu (a.k.a. anCnoc), Pulteney, and Speyburn
Type: Scotch Blended Whiskey
Age: (grain) 3 years; (malt) 4-5 years
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Bottle Code: L20 05 11

The history for Hankey Bannister is a little blurry.  Their official website doesn't actually name the founders, Beaumont Hankey and Hugh Bannister, in their history pages (only showing their first initials in the bottom right corner of the page).  Inver House (their owners) state this on their site:
In 1757 society figures and suppliers of fine wines and spirits Beaumont Hankey and Hugh Bannister were inspired to create a superior Blended whisky for Their illustrious clientèle, among them The Prince Regent, William IV and George V. So they hand-selected fine and rare scotch whiskies for quality and crafted them with care to create the smooth, light and perfectly balanced renowned in society for over 250 years.
The thing is, blends weren't sold until 1860.  Dominic Roskrow's 1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die (yes, I bought it) notes that the first known reference to Hankey Bannister blended scotch was in 1882.  It also mentions about the two supposed founders, "The two gentlemen are strangely anonymous, and little is known of their lives." (373)

Ultimately, the company did exist and the whisky currently exists (I drank it), but its origin and founders may be debatable.

Currently their range also includes a 12yr, 21yr, and a 40yr.  The 40yr contains whisky from closed distilleries and won the World's Best Blended Whisky at the WWAs in both 2008 & 2009, so apparently it's scrumptious.  It also costs $600.

That's why I'm a-tastin' the cheap youngin' of the range.

The "Original" is made of about 30% malt, the rest is grain.  Most of the distilleries listed above are superb, though I'm betting that Balmenach is used the most.  Balmenach distillery (owned by Inver House) cranks out two million liters a year without any official single malt bottlings, so it's all going to blends --> Hankey Bannister is Inver House's flagship blend.

I picked up a 50mL of Hankey Original without knowing any of this info.  I only knew that it's a blend that costs just under $20.

Color -- Middle Gold
Nose -- Sweet grains, ethyl, coconut?, cheap perfume, brown sugar, sweat
Palate -- All young grain whisky, sugary sweet, vanilla, cinnamon
Finish -- A little rough at first sip, then a bit sticky and fruity

Nose -- Grainy, grassy, vanilla
Palate -- Creamier, mild, otherwise the same as neat
Finish -- Improved but brief, sweet, vanilla

Buttery coconut, very similar to Lauders.

This one needs several moments in the glass.  If sipped immediately after being poured, it's harsh.  But give it a few minutes and it improves to something between J&B and Lauder's.  Not much more to add about this.  It ain't terrible.  And if you can find it for under $15, then it makes for an acceptable mixing whisky.

Availability - Most liquor stores
Pricing - Good at $14-$20 (no need to pay more than 20 for this, someone has it cheaper)
Rating - 71


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