View Full Version : What would a great American Blended Whiskey Be?

08-10-2010, 16:48
I don't know of any great American Blended Whiskies currently available. I personally have never tasted one that I thought was even very interesting. Randy wrote recently about a ho-hum Charter blend, and I was reminded by a post today asking about Calvert, but I don't know of one that raised much enthusiasm. Some of us tasted Caribou Crossing and remarked that it might be the best example of what a good blended would be, but of course it's a Canadian.

If someone were to attempt a really great American Blended, perhaps these are some of the things that would make it successful:

Main spirit aged in used cooperage, not GNS (aping Scotch blends) to avoid the ethanol whiff
Sweet oak, some tobacco, and vanilla in nose
Minimal presence of corn oiliness to avoid a cloying body
Clean flavor - no musty, grassy or eucalyptus notes
Moderate oak flavor, but controlled oak astringency
Somewhat or fairly dry on the finish
Perhaps a short finish to beg another sip

It's funny, as I type this, it seems I'm definitely pointing towards a high wheat mash, perhaps some rye or not, but definitely a restrained corn content. I'm not trying to make a joke, but maybe what I'm really describing is a version of MM46, lightened with some Bernheim wheat aged in used cooperage. If it were for me, I'd like a bit of rye whimsy, the type that Sazerac Jr. has without the heaviness of Rittenhouse or WT rye.

What would a great American Blended Whiskey be for others?


08-11-2010, 05:25
For me it would be a blend or vatting of straight whiskies -- just exactly like Parkers Heritage or 4Roses Mariage or 40th or Wild Turkey Tribute or American Spirit.

08-11-2010, 13:03
For me it would be a blend or vatting of straight whiskies -- just exactly like Parkers Heritage or 4Roses Mariage or 40th or Wild Turkey Tribute or American Spirit.

Umm, Steve,
That's some of the good stuff we already have now. I like all of those. But, if they're different types of straights, they're "a blend of straights" and if their the same type of straight there's no need to even put the word "blend" on the label. Those are damn good bourbons, not a blended whiskey.

I guess what I was getting at is that there is a real type of consumer who prefers a lighter, less challenging flavor - yet all the products that I've ever had to serve this tasted some combination of: cheap, vodka-like from the GNS, pumped with non-whiskey flavors like sherry, or just...vapid. It seems there could be a really good, upscale product that didn't ape Canadian nor the ill-fated light whiskies of 20 years ago.

Maybe it's just what Makers already provides...


08-11-2010, 13:48
Gotcha Roger. My point was, we already have an excellent selection of very high quality "blend of straights" if you go that way.

The trick in making the Great American Blended Whiskey you propose is differentiating it from a weak or perhaps I should say featureless straight.

Actually I think this is accomplished by two Canadians Crown's XR and Cask16 - both very good whiskies in my book and I think they quality as blended but I'm not sure about if or how much GNS they contain. There may be others but I am unacquainted with most Canadians.

08-11-2010, 20:49
The High West Bourye is another example.

08-12-2010, 15:58
Perhaps I'd have a better opinion of blends if I'd have ever tasted one that had very little or no GNS.

I always think of blends as whiskey helper; GNS stretches your stocks of aged straights like hamburger helper stretches your grocery dollar.

But now I'm wondering what a blend of MM, Bernheim Wheat, and a dash of Saz JR. all aged in used cooperage would taste like after about 8 years in wood; a more distillate driven profile with less oak but plenty of vanilla?

08-29-2010, 07:38
Bourbon is about sales and profit. These days there are a whole lot of folks who draw the line, quality wise, at Jim Beam White. Despite what is said here from the Beam haters it is a very modestly priced straight bourbon that will fill the bill for mixed drinks after work. You might not put it on the table after Thanksgiving supper but as an everyday drink it does just fine. Around here I can find the 1.75l bottle for around $22-24 on sale and sometimes it goes a bit cheaper. So if you offered me a blend, with GNS in it, for a dollar, two or three less guess which one I am going to go for....that's right, the Beam white. Heck, I bought a bottle of Echo Spring at Liquor Barn in Louisville for $16....a 1.75l bottle. For $16 I got 3 year old straight bourbon and no GNS. Perhaps a new trend in blends will someday develop that will include blends of straight bourbons like is done with Scotches (different distilleries) but blends that include GNS will always be cheap crap in the minds of consumers for good reason; because they are cheap crap. Personally, I will never understand some consumer trends when it comes to bourbon (witness selling white dog for close to aged whiskey prices) but I would try a Scotch-like blend of Bourbons if and only IF it were priced right; that is to say cheap.

08-29-2010, 12:41
Absolutely right. Terrific explanation. And furthermore an argument for why bourbon is the world's best whiskey.

08-29-2010, 13:09
I think a quality bourbon blend can be as good as some bourbons and better than many. The bourbon/other straight whiskey content would need to be high and selected for specific characteristics. This could be a superior drink to young bourbon from a palate standpoint, and also pricing. If it has, say, 30% GNS, it could be sold presumably for 20% less (I'm picking a number) than the average cost of the straight whiskey components. On top of that, the market is composed of many who will not drink straight whiskey even mixed. They find it too heavy but may drink a quality blend, as the success of Canadian whisky in the U.S. shows but also the wide sales of Seagram 7 Crown (still a good drink). And I am not saying all Canadian whiskies are all high quality but their success shows where the market could go with a really high-end bourbon blend. The answer might be, 70% a blend of straight rye and wheated bourbon distillates, aged minimum 8 years, the rest GNS. That could be a good drink. A committed bourbon drinker may not buy it, but the market extends well beyond that.


12-14-2010, 19:29
I think a vatting of good bourbons is a great idea and I wouldn't mind the addition of some GNS that had been aged in non or lightly charred barrels.