Usually at this time of the week, I’d recommend a new whisky which I’ve recently tried or been sent. However, this week, I want to tell you about the time I got to make MY OWN WHISKY!
On Wednesday evening, I headed along to Edinburgh’s Tigerlilly Bar for a blending session with Chivas. My blending companion for the night and I were led to the back of the bar where we were met by Chivas Ambassador Matthew Cordiner, who would be our host. From the moment I sat down, the geek in me got a wee bit excited by the amateur blending kit in-front of us, which including chemistry beakers, pipettes and an assortment of bottles filled with both single malt and grain whiskies.
Our session kicked off with a dram of Chivas’ 12 Year Old, whilst Matthew explained the differences between the five different types of Scotch whisky. We then worked our way through each of the different whiskies – one from each of Scotland’s whisky making regions, plus a grain whisky. Unlike similar sessions I’ve done before, the distilleries which each of the whiskies came from remained a mystery until the end, so as not to skew our opinion and senses.
After getting to know the component parts, it was time to get down to blending. For someone who usually likes Speyside whiskies, I decided to pass on the Speysider this time and just use the four other whiskies in my 150ml blend. I started off with a 50ml base of grain whisky, before adding 50ml of the particularly tasty Highland whisky. For my final 50ml, I added the Lowland and Islay whisky a couple of drops at a time. It’s amazing how a little bit of smoky Islay whisky can go a LONG way to completely changing the character of your dram, with a lot more of the Lowlander needed to balance things out. In the end, I added 35ml of the Lowland whisky and just 15ml of the smoky monster.
Finally, you can’t create a whisky without giving it a name. And with Danny Boyle’s sequel currently filming in the city, I decided to plump for Train-scotching. Disappointingly, it was only the second best name on the night.
Overall though, I had an absolutely smashing time. As a host, Matthew was fantastic company, giving us enough information and background with overwhelming or – even worse – boring us. The format itself is also a great way of demystifying the art of blending, whilst also demonstrating the skill and expertise required to create a world renowned drink.
(Oh, and for those who are dying to know, the whiskies we used in our blending were Dalwhinnie, Laphroaig, Auchentoshan, Strathisla and a rare 23 year old from Clydesdale Distillery).