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Tippling Point | Ballantine is a popular drink. Here’s its story

The origins of Ballantine, voted Europe's No 1 Scotch whisky and also World's Best Blended Scotch 2020, traces back to the early 1800s.

February 20, 2021 / 11:49 AM IST

It all began on a fine morning in 1822 when Archibald Ballantine, a Scottish farmer, took his son George in a horse-drawn cart to Edinburgh. The young boy was shaking nervously in his stiff collar, with a travel bag clutched tightly in his arm. The father and son had an important appointment. The lawyer they had to meet in the town would help them sign papers apprenticing the young boy to Andrew Hunter for the next five years.

Who was Andrew Hunter? No big fish you should want to know in detail, but he was an Edinburgh grocer and dealer in wines and spirits. Enough to set a talent in motion, history would say.

As the young boy signed the papers none could imagine they were witnessing the birth of one of the legends in the spirit industry. Meanwhile much more interesting things were happening in Scotland. The practice and long tradition of illicit whisky distilling in Scotland to evade the ever-escalating taxes imposed by the British were finally coming to an end with the introduction of a fairer system of licensing.

As a token of change Edinburgh witnessed the ceremonial visit of King George IV, with an intention to make peace with Scotland. Legal distilleries now began to mushroom everywhere across the Scottish landscape.