Friday, July 10, 2015

Experimental Whisky: North British/Arran/Tamdhu/Hazelburn/Bunnahabhain Blend

One of the main goals of in making blends is creating balance - carefully adding more flavorful malts to grain whisky. When that comes to peat and sherry, a little goes a long way. So this was my attempt to add a bit of everything, hopefully keeping any one element from dominating the others, at a respectable but not overwhelming strength of 46%.

•15 mL Signatory North British 16 Year CS
•5 mL Arran Bourbon Single Cask
•2 mL Signatory Tamdhu 8 Year CS
•1 mL Hazelburn 8 Year CS
•1 mL Chieftain’s peated Bunnahabhain 16 Year CS for K&L
•5 mL H2O

North British/Arran/Tamdhu/Hazelburn/Bunnahabhain Blend

Nose: grain with a mossy peat edge, a whiff of sherry and fresh soil, a little green, cured meat, gentle oak, seashore, vanilla. After adding a few drops of water, there is more grain and peat, plus something nutty emerges.

Taste: sweet grain and malt with bourbon cask influence up front, vanilla/floral/vegetal in the middle, sliding through mild sherry influence at the back. After dilution, it becomes more integrated - the sherry shifts forward and the peat arrives earlier.

Finish: grain, peat, oak

This blend hews most closely to the recipe set out by Alfred Barnard than any other I've made, though it is even more grain-heavy, making it more akin to modern commercial blends. The balance of grain whisky, bourbon cask malt, sherried malt, and peated malt is just right. Every element is present, but none dominates, providing a pleasant but relatively unchallenging experience. The flavor density is solid given the final proof, but it reads as fairly smooth. This is what I want blends like Johnnie Walker to be, but they never quite seem to get there. Nice to know that I can do for self.

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