The Final Countdown

The Battle of the Blends is now closed
By Rupert Wheeler
As I write this, the final results of the judging are being checked and double checked to determine our overall winner of the Battle of the Blends. We have sent out samples from both here at Whisky Magazine and also from Master of Malt who have been very much behind the competition including getting the whole process out on social media, where I am reliably informed it has been a huge success. I estimate that we have sent samples out to over 300 judges most of whom were in the UK but also in the United States and even as far away as Hong Kong.

I very much look forward to announcing the winner in late October and we will then start the whole process again when we announce a new contender at Whisky Live London in March 2016.

Neil ‘Copper Dog’ Ridley

All is quiet in the Ridley household. In fact, since Orville has departed, I am feeling a slight pang of Blending Turkey – a commonly known complaint experienced by many whisky blenders, who have just lovingly released a new batch of spirit into the wild. Of course, I joke, but perhaps there is some truth in the matter. Putting Orville together and seeing / tasting the changes as it married and matured in the little 20 litre cask gave me an insight into just how incredible the art of the blender really is.

Here we are messing around, pretending that we really know the intricacies of putting together a first class blended whisky. The truth is that adding a number of different spirits into a cask in varying amounts is easy; the tough bit comes in creating a living, breathing recipe that can be replicated time and time again, often from a shifting inventory of different flavours.

I can’t begin to think how hard it would be to keep making an exact version of Orville again and again. The whole point to blending I guess is to create a balanced palate of colours. Hopefully you’ll find some light and shade in here!

Dave ‘The Rummager’ Broom

Well, that’s that then. There’s a space in the office where my wee cask used to sit and while I wouldn’t necessarily go to the lengths of saying there was a Rosalita-shaped hole in my heart, I’ll miss her. As I said in the last issue, this was a fun exercise – yes it was somewhat contrived (no blender would ever approach their work in this fashion) but this incremental method of blending has helped to underline the importance of overall and internal balance within a blend, a real demonstration of how 2 + 2 does not equal 4.

I haven’t a clue how people will react to my blend. All I know is that I did the best I could. I don’t know how good Neil’s is – though I expect it to be excellent – but this isn’t about there being a winner (and therefore a loser). Reducing this exercise to a competition misses what whisky as a whole is about – distillers, blenders, bottlers, ham-fisted hacks doing the best they can and hoping that people appreciate their efforts. The idiocy of competition distracts everyone from that truth. So, those of you who tried it, I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t, never mind, there’s plenty more whisky around.

The Final Blends

Ridley's Blend

Springbank 10 Years Old

Hazelburn 12 Years Old

Overeem Port Cask (Tasmania)

Bowmore Darkest

Arran Machrie Moor

Highland Park Svein

Glenkinchie 12 Years Old

Auchentoshan Three Wood

Nikka Coffey Grain No Age Statement

Dailuaine 16 Years Old

Aberlour 12 Years Old

Clynelish 14 Years Old

Broom's Blend

The Glenkinchie 12 Years Old Distiller’s Edition

Ardmore Legacy

Kilkerran Work in Progress 6 matured in ex-Bourbon casks

Springbank 12 Years Old

Aultmore 12 Years Old

Caol Ila 12 Years Old

Greenore 8 Years Old

Cameronbridge No Age Statement

Girvan Apps No.4

Teaninich 10 Years Old

Clynelish 14 Years Old