Johnnie Walker is the latest distillery to get into the experimental whisky game, with master blender Jim Beveridge launching a new series called Blenders’ Batch. Said to number in the hundreds, these experiments have long been “a crucial part of their work, focusing on developing and understanding a vast variety of unconventional flavors that can add depth and complexity to Scotch.” Now some of these experiments are being released to the public, and the first is arriving in the U.S. imminently. Some details from JW:
In the U.S., the first blend that will be available is Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Triple Grain American Oak, which is the result of experiments focusing on the influence of bourbon and rye whiskey flavors on Scotch. This whisky is inspired by the time Beveridge spent working in Kentucky blending bourbon and rye. Aged for at least 10 years in American oak, including bourbon casks, Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Triple Grain American Oak is crafted using five whiskies including grain from the now closed Port Dundas distillery and malt from Mortlach on Speyside. This combination creates a whisky that is uniquely smooth, with notes of sweet fresh fruit and gentle spice. This style of whisky is excellent as the foundation for classic and signature cocktails.
Technically this is the third blend in the Blenders’ Batch series, following Red Rye Finish and a Bourbon Cask and Rye Finish, neither of which were released in the U.S.
So let’s give Blenders’ Batch #3 a try!
The nose is quite grainy, typical of a younger blend, with the light vanilla notes and the lumberyard character of new American oak. Some banana and red apple notes provide the fruit, alongside some more savory, vegetal green bean aromas. The palate is sweeter than the nose would indicate, offering a banana bread character with hints of allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, plus elements of roasted nuts. Soon a sharpness takes hold and puts out some heat as the finish approaches, where we find a melding of sweeter elements — gingerbread, sticky bun, and vanilla custard — at play with a reprise of lighter lumberyard elements.
It’s a bit of a departure for the House of Walker, with no smokiness to speak of and now citrus-focused sherry casking either, but one that works out better than expected. Great value, too!
82.6 proof. Bottles are individually numbered.
B+ / $25 / johnniewalker.com