Whisky Magazine and Master of Malt have recently joined together for what is billed (in a very tongue in cheek manner) as “one of the greatest events in whisky history” – the Battle of the Blends. The competition sees whisky aficionados Dave Broom and Neil Ridley battle it out in an illustrious blending competition, which is then voted on by the general public.
Each amateur blender started out with a 20-litre first fill American oak cask, which had previously been filled with high strength neutral spirit. Each competitor then seasoned their cask – Dave with Rum and Neil with Sherry – before blending commenced. Neither is a professional blender, but with their knowledge and expertise, we should be in for a treat.
There were a number of ground rules, which included the fact that each of Scotland’s whisky-making regions needed to be included; no bottle of whisky used must cost more than £50 RRP and must be available in the UK; and there must be at least one grain whisky.
Dave’s blend comprises:
Ardmore Legacy, Kilkerran Work in Progress 6 (matured in ex-bourbon casks), Springbank 12 Year Old, Aultmore 12 Year Old, Caol Ila 12 Year Old, Greenore 8 Year Old, Cameronbrige No Age Statement, Girvan apps No. 4, Teaninich 10 Year Old & Clynelish 14 Year Old.
Neil’s blend contains:
Bowmore Darkest, Arran Machrie Moor, Glenkinchie 12 Year Old, Auchentoshan Three Wood, Nikka Coffey Grain No Age Statement, Dailuaine 16 Year Old, Aberlour 12 Year Old and Clynelish 14 Year Old.
And for me, the winner was *drumroll* – Blend A. To continue the experiments’ boxing metaphor, it just seemed to pack more of a punch. The nose was very sweet, with pineapples and buttery apples. The sweetness continues on the palate, with the fruits becoming citrusier and a distinct hint of chocolate. And a glowing aftertaste ended with the tiniest hint of salt. Whereas, Blend B had, well, nothing that discernible I’m afraid.
I think Blend A may belong to Neil, due to the overriding sherry influences, but this could easily be a red herring. Voting closes on Friday 9 October, with the results announced on 4 December.
Update – Blend A, which was unsurprisingly put together by Neil, won with 59% of the vote.