Boutique-y goes global

Boutique-y goes global

That Boutique-y Whisky Company are releasing a new blend, and it’s a big one. Can a company best known for bottling great whisky master the fine art of blending? We sent Mark Jennings to find out.

News | 20 Dec 2019 | By Mark Jennings

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Many of you will know That Boutique-y Whisky Company for their fabulous labels, and their mostly excellent indie bottlings of famous, infamous and far flung distilleries. The team behind it are extremely experienced, and very nice, so when I got an invite to taste their very first world whisky blend I jumped at the chance.

Presented by Torontonian Sam Simmons, their ‘Head of Whisky’ and now blender, the invite proclaimed that the “World Whisky Blend celebrates the way the world really drinks whisky - making it perfect for mixing. This truly global blend takes whisky from some of planet earth’s best craft distilleries and blends them harmoniously together to create something delicious.”

WOW. I mean, it's going to be incredible right?

I adore the mastery that goes into making each component sing without drowning the other out, and I like their price. I’m no whisky snob

A company that has access to the world's best spirits, run by dyed-in-the-wool whisky geeks, and is famous for innovation. They used barley, wheat and rye whiskies, and corn grain spirit, from 18 distilleries around the world. EIGHTEEN! You just know this is going to be one remarkable product.

I’m especially excited because I unashamedly LOVE blends. I adore the mastery that goes into making each component sing without drowning the other out, and I like their price. I’m no whisky snob.

And maybe this is why I’m so disappointed.

Remember all those years ago when someone, probably an older brother, tried to get you into jazz? You were made to sit in silence while they dropped the needle on Coltrane’s A love Supreme. You listened, you tried really hard to love it, and maybe you even got a little into it. Your brother looked over occasionally, smiling, willing you to like it - but somehow you just don’t.

This blend isn’t that.

This blend is like the same brother introduced you to Cream’s classic White Room, and Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy and Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Sharp Minor AND A Love Supreme, all at the same time.

Yes it has tropical fruit, green apples, honey, banana, butteriness, spice and pepper but they all hit your palate at different velocities, as if the ingredients haven’t married up - it just isn’t an integrated experience. Then there is the nose - it's surprisingly lacking, given how many fabulous whiskies are in the mix.

We tasted some of these whiskies separately - really fine things like Amorik from Brittany, PUNI from Italy, Zuidam from The Netherlands and some wild Taiwanese gear: but this just made me sadder. Somehow whatever made each of these whiskies so interesting was lost as they fought with each other.

Now, you might accuse me of looking for too much from a blend, but it’s because of my love of blends that I want more. Sam name checked Chivas Brothers in his introduction and that just reminds you what huge shoes they have to fill. There are such great blends on the market already that a new one has to at least go toe-to-toe with them.

In tech startups they talk about ‘moonshots’, the setting of seemingly impossible challenges to motivate people to do incredible things.

And sure, you might say I’m drinking this neat and most people will have it in a cocktail. That’s fair. I did that too and the whisky felt just a bit lost.

I don’t mean to seem unkind, as I say I really like this brand and the team, but everyone I spoke to the next day felt the same: a sense of surprise that folks so wedded to great whisky could miss the mark. In tech startups they talk about ‘moonshots’, the setting of seemingly impossible challenges to motivate people to do incredible things. This was Boutique-y’s moonshot. The thing about moonshots is that when they don’t work, you drift off into space.

This product demonstrates how incredibly difficult it is to make a great blend, especially one with 18 different whiskies. Even the outstanding team at Boutique-y can get it wrong. I hate having to write this article, but I write it to encourage them to go back and do this again, but maybe aiming for the outer atmosphere not the moon, and landing it properly.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s World Whisky Blend is bottled at 41.6 (Toronto’s area code, of course), and priced at £32.95. Available from on pre-release, and from other outlets in the spring.

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