The unsung heroes behind one of the world's finest blended whiskies are finally getting some recognition.
Miltonduff, Glentauchers and Glenburgie are what whisky enthusiasts term 'workhorse distilleries'.
They are the three little known Speyside single malts that provide the foundations of Ballantine's, the number two Scotch whisky in the world with its range selling over 70 million bottles a year worldwide.
Now, for the first time Ballantine's is releasing a new range showcasing the three distilleries at the core of its blend, offering consumers an unprecedented opportunity to taste distilleries rarely seen as single malts.
Join the club
The Miltonduff 15 Year Old is available exclusively through Australia's biggest whisky subscription service, , whose founder Bertie Cason is delighted at the coup.
"As the club's been growing, we've become quite an important partner for brands and distilleries to launch products into the country," he says
"On that basis we've started getting a lot more brands approaching us with pretty cool opportunities to bring products to the market on an exclusive basis.
"When they first contacted us with it I just couldn't stop smiling because I just thought it was the most genius bit of marketing.
"You've essentially got these distilleries that you never hear of, that are essentially what they call workhorse distilleries.
"It obviously allows them to either continue with these brands as a regular line, or just do them as a one-off and bring them back in a year's time.
"It's also, I think, is a very, very clever way I think of recruiting drinkers to the single malt category. If you think of the huge following that a blend like Ballantine's would have, it's a good way of bringing drinkers from blends into single malts," Cason adds.
The initiative may also work in reverse, by reminding single malt snobs of the heritage and quality underpinning fine blends.
While Ballantine's is a blend far lesser known in Australia than its stablemate Chivas Regal – both of which are owned by spirits giant Pernod Ricard – it has a fine pedigree, having won accolades including the coveted Whisky of the Year award from renowned critic Jim Murray for Ballantine's 17.
But Cason said he would not have secured The Miltonduff for his members if it had not lived up to expectations.
"There's nothing that we sell that we haven't tasted ourselves and aren't very, very happy with it," he says.
Cason states the Miltonduff 15 Year Old brings all the warmth and power to Ballantine's and as a single malt delivers smooth and delicate floral notes, with a hint of spice, lots of liquorice and a long, luscious finish.
The other whiskies are available through different channels. Glentauchers 15 Year Old, a more fruit forward style, is exclusive to travel retail outlets.
The only membership you need
Glenburgie 15 Year Old, an extremely smooth and fruity expression, is exclusive to Dan Murphy's.
The Whisky Club now has 3000 members who get access to a different exclusive whisky each month, with the ability to opt out as they choose.
Unlike the gym, there is no joining fee and you can easily leave the club after you have made even a single purchase.
"As our members will discover, it verges on the sacrilegious that they've been keeping The Miltonduff all for their blends, not allowing any to be released in its pure, unadulterated glory. But thank the whisky gods they finally have," Cason says.