We’ve been celebrating the Art of Blending here at the Scotch Whisky Experience, to mark Whisky Month in May. Blended whisky makes up 90% of whisky sales worldwide, and many Scotch whisky fans aren’t aware that the consistency and popularity of the single malts they know and love, owes a lot to the process of blending.
We were very excited to roll out the new tour elements here at the Scotch Whisky Experience in the first few months of 2017, including a replica Blender’s Room that was modelled on those used in the 1870s. The room forms part of our standard whisky tasting tour, and takes visitors through the process of blending whisky and why it’s so important to the Scotch whisky world.
To celebrate Whisky Month, the team on our Amber Restaurant Whisky Bar have put together a special flight of blended whiskies in salute of some of the people who really made blended whisky the global superstar it is today. You’ll recognise the names behind some of the world’s biggest whisky brands, and you can find out more about Thomas Dewar, George Ballantine, William Grant and Peter Mackie below.
The Art of Blending whisky flight on our Amber Restaurant Whisky Bar – a flight crafted specially for Whisky Month, May 2017.
George Ballantine, Edinburgh
Ballantine’s 17 year old (43%)
- Ballantine’s whisky started life as a house blend of a grocer’s shop in Edinburgh
- In its early days, Ballantine’s whisky was sold to an exclusive clientele, among them the Hindu Royal family.
Man behind the dram: George was one of the original licensed grocers who perpetuated the popularity of blended scotch whisky – opening up a shop in 1927 on Canongate and later expanding to Candlemaker Row. Inspired by the success of his friend, fellow grocer and pioneer blender Andrew Usher, George Ballantine experimented with different combinations before hitting on a blend that eventually made the toast of Queen Victoria in the 1890s.
Tasting notes: Silky smooth with a sweet maltiness and a touch of oak and smoke.
William Grant, Dufftown
William Grant & Sons’ Sherry Cask Reserve (40%)
- The iconic triangular bottle shape was created in the 1950s
- Glenfiddich was the first to open its distillery doors to visitors
Man behind the dram: Having built Glenfiddich distillery by hand with the help of his children in the 1880s, William Grant started producing single malt whisky on Christmas day in 1897. The success of Glenfiddich was such that he was able to build Balvenie distillery in Dufftown in 1892, and the two whiskies were blended into their own product a few years later. Such was the popularity of William Grant & Son’s whisky, by 1914 it was being exported to 30 countries – five times that many today.
Tasting notes: Rich and smooth with fruity flavours and a hint of sherry!
Peter Mackie, Edinburgh
White Horse (40%)
- White Horse was named after an ancient inn on Canongate (a five minute walk from the Scotch Whisky Experience!)
- The heart of White Horse is Lagavulin / Talisker / Linkwood
Man behind the dram: Peter Mackie took over the distillery from his uncle – James Logan Mackie – developing the White Horse brand from 1890 onward. His company bought a number of distilleries in Scotland to maintain a supply of malt spirit to keep up with export demand. He was a strong and outspoken pioneer of blended Scotch whisky, and his fiery personality is reflected in the smouldering undertones of this incredible blend.
Tasting notes: A malty, smooth character with some peaty notes.
Tommy Dewar, Aberfeldy
Dewar’s 18 year old Founder’s Reserve (43%)
Tommy Dewar is famous for quotes including:
- ‘We have a great regard for old age, when it is bottled’
- ‘Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open.’
Man behind the dram: As the person behind many of the whisky world’s top quips and quotes, it’s possible that you know more about Tommy Dewar than you realise. An outgoing people person, Dewar became a partner of his father (John Dewar’s) whisky blending and bottling business in 1881. Tommy Dewar was an accomplished salesman with an eye for outlandish marketing techniques. By 1891, he had used his charm, influence and considerable fortune to recruit agents for Dewar’s whisky across the world, establishing the company’s White Label brand as the most popular in the USA, a position it still holds today.