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  1. #11
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    No offense taken, MickB. But, I believe the base malt in the Johnnie Walker blends is Cardhu. If it were Laphroaig, the peat and medicinal notes would be much more prominent.

    I, too, in general prefer single malts to blends, but do enjoy blends--particularly JW Black--on occasion. The single malts you mention are excellent, each in their own way. Yet, sometimes I want something a bit more mellow yet still flavorful. Single malts by their nature are intensely flavorful, but are often one or two dimensional. A blend can offer a more rounded, multi-dimensional, less intense taste experience. Single malts are not necessarily better than blends; they're just different.

    If someone gave me the choice of JWBlack or the single malts you mention, I most likely would choose one of the malts. But, if all he had to offer was a dram of JWBlack, I would happily accept.

    SpeedyJohn




  2. #12
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    John, Cardu is also involved in the making of JWB. Laphroaig has claimed that it is more involved in the Black and less in the red. I however must respectfully disagree that single malt is more intense. You need to drink more single malt. There are just as many mellow, round and soft single malts are there are blends, if not more. There are single malts for every occasion ranging from peaty and medicinal to soft and floral. One sip of Mortlach will tell you all you need to know about lavender, rose petals, sweet barley and soft fields of heather. IMO, people who feel the need to drink blends, haven't fully experienced single malt.

    You certainly wouldn't waste your time on McCormick, Barton Canadian and Mount Royal Light to fully experience "whiskey" would you? Like Canadian whiskey has soiled the name of Bourbon among the unknowing masses, Blended scotch has sullied the name of Scotch almost beyond repair. I can't fathom why any whisk(e)y connoisseur would consider a product blended with vodka (grain spirits) to be tasty.

  3. #13
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    Cardu is also involved in the making of JWB. Laphroaig has claimed that it is more involved in the Black and less in the red.
    Are you sure about that? I've always understood that Talisker was one of the primary components of Black Label.

  4. #14
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    Auchentoshan (was: Johnny Walker breaks tradition)

    If you are going to drink the Blue, skip it and try....Auchentoshan 31 yr...
    I'm a HUGE fan of Auchentoshan 10, and to a lesser extent the Three Wood, but have never had the 31yo. Is it worth the extra expense?



  5. #15
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    Blended scotch has sullied the name of Scotch almost beyond repair.
    mick, with all due respect, that's simply not the way the history of Scotch Whisky played out. To quote Charles MacLean in his fine book "malt whisky":

    "Until the 1980s single malt whiskies remained scarce outside of Scotland, and many were only available in the district of their manufacture."

    1980 was only 23 years ago. Most of the single malts you see on the shelf today were simply not in existance 20 years ago. And many of the ones you earlier mention were the brainchilds of marketing and international distribution, not connoisseur's choices. To say that the blended Scotches have sullied the Scotch name is putting the cart before the horse.

    While I agree that single malt is a connoisseur's choice, there would be NO single malts without the HUGE success of scotch blends (which, today, far outsell single malts).

  6. #16
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    Re: Auchentoshan (was: Johnny Walker breaks tradition)

    Never tried the 31 year old but Auchtentoshan 10 year old is very good, likely the best of the surviving Lowlanders. Back to Johnny Walker Blue, this is a good whisky but in my opinion, the price is high for what is offered. Likely the price relates to the elaborate packaging and the stocks of very old whiskies in the blend (up to 60 years old or more). The palate is subtle though, and the grain whisky component is quite noticeable. The long age of those doesn't seem to diminish their "cut" much. I would prefer a whisky composed like Blue (that is, the same basic elements of flavor) but "bigger", i.e., in body, taste, nose and finish. Grand Old Parr (although I haven't had it lately) is such a big-bodied blend but of course with a taste profile of its own (very cereal-malty).

    I would build a good blend by using about 60% Speysiders and other Highlands, 20% Islays, and 20% Lowlanders. That would be a vatting, of course. The perms and combs are infinite, if grain whisky is felt necessary to "display" the malts, one could go with 35% grain (old North British and some younger ones) and the rest a combination of aged and younger Highlands, Lowlands and some Campbelltowns (for a change of pace from Islay). I think even the good blends are relatively unassertive today because modern taste so dictates; also, the aged whiskies are perhaps not always that assertive themselves. I once read that The Macallan is prized for blending but the one sold into the blending trade is not the heavy-bodied sherry cask version famously sold as The Macallan by the house but rather a bourbon-cask, or second fill sherry cask, version. I once tried such a Macallan and it was good and interesting but hardly resembled the one put out by The Macallan under its own name, whoch is of course 100% first fill sherry cask-aged. So a lot of the malts used in blending (not all, but many) may themselves not be all that rich tasting or distinctive on their own. Of course, the whisky companies can make anything they want.

    If the current trend to vatting (e.g. Cardhu I understand) continues, this should bode well for the development of good-tasting vattings. Back to Johnny Walker, the marque is justly renowned for quality but I'd say the Gold gives the best price-to-quality ratio and not only that, the Gold is simply the best in the current JW range (their vatted included, in this case). It is a rich, full-bodied, malty whisky with a briny edge that suggests some good aged Orkney, Campbelltown and Islay in there. A very adroit blend in any case, worthy of the history and fame of the marque.

    Gary

  7. #17
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    I agree fully. Blended scotch made scotch what it is today. I doubt the malts would have taken the world by storm. They could not have offered the consistency and balanced, complex, "house" taste which the great blends introduced. "Scotch" became a different article from the malts and eclipsed them, even in Scotland, until recently and even now it is only in connoisseur circles that malts are really admired (i.e., most whisky sold today is still blended). That said, I would agree that too many blends (and I just posted re some of the JW range) are, today, too light or bland. Almost certainly the classic blends had much more character two generations ago and further back from then. Charles Maclean or Philip Hills (I cannot recall who, it was one of them) wrote of tasting wartime blends that drank like "old brandy". I think slowly the blends were lightened over the years, no doubt to move them closer to the Cutty Sark-type lightness of colour and body that became very popular after World War II. Some blends of today (Johnny Walker Gold, 30 year old Ballantine's, 25 year old Cutty, etc.) are rich-tasting and excellent. It is my sense that probably, most decent blends of 60 years ago tasted like that select group. Today, there are just a few of those around and they are quite costly to buy. Mmuch as I like a well-tuned malt, I feel a luxury blend such as I mentioned probably is closer to the type of whisky that (until the 1960's or so) conquered the world market for spirits rather than a 20 or 30 year old single malt.

    Gary

  8. #18
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    Another blend fan here, although I probably drink more single malts.

    For those who are interested in blends, I can not recommend Jim Murray's fine book Classic Blended Scotch highly enough. Lots of history on each of the currently available blends, insight into the characteristics of the grain distilleries themselves and the identity of the grain/malt distilleries that contribute significantly to a lot of the blends. I got mine from amazon.co.uk, from which its still available (published in 1999). I don't think it was ever released in the U.S.

    I've discovered quite a few interesting blends I was not previously aware of through the book, and have been able to pick up while in the U.K. like Old Parr, Black Bottle, Islay Mist, and others.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  9. #19
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    Although I drink many more malts than blends, that is primariy because of the larger number of malts. IMHO, Chivas 18yo (and even Royal Salute), Campbeltown Loch 25, JW Black, and Black Bottle are better than average single malts at their respective price points--even though there are many malts at those price points I do prefer. The art of the blender is quite different from the art of the distiller and I appreciate both.

    FWIW, Most of the older single grains I've tasted have been better than average also!

  10. #20
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    Re: Johnny Walker breaks tradition

    Hmmm. . .where to begin. Scotch history played out a little different than many of you indicate.

    Distilleries don't produce blends. Whisky survived as single malt for several hundred years, in fact, the first recorded distillation (though it certainly occured earlier) in Scotland was 1494. It wasn't until the invention of the Coffey still in 1826 that blends forced any kind of presence. Additionally, until the Royal Commission was convened in 1909 to officially declare blended scotch legal (due to the Pattison's fiasco) it had only enjoyed relatively modest fame in Frace and England. However, post 1909 it hit is boom.

    However, to assert that single malt couldn't survive without blends is, frankly, ridiculous. Single malt did just that for 332 years until the Coffey still, then another 83 years until blended Scotch was written as allowable into the law. So, at best, one could say that Scotch's international appeal came from blends, but certainly not its survival. As I can tell, there were only 70+ years that single malt was not at the forefront of production since 1494.

    You have to realize the sacrilege you are portraying to scotch fans. I know this is a bourbon site, so Scotch is not at the forefront of your minds. That is fine. However, for me, working in the liquor business and being the director of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society for East Tennessee, Scotch is a big deal to me. Bourbon is my second great love (though I actually own more bourbon than Scotch LOL).

    Would you frown if I lumped Early Times and McCormick whiskey in with quality bourbon and said "I prefer its lighter taste sometimes"? Of course you would. You would do what I am doing now, try to dissuade me from drinking it.

    Blended Scotch is the reason that people come into my shop everyday and say "I like everything but Scotch". That sharp alcohol finish on all but the best and heavily aged blends is very evident and distasteful to most. Frankly, I don't want scotch represented by blends, as no connoisseur does.

    To hear some of you state that you are "blends guys" is unfortunate. Next time, buy cheap single malt and have your vodka on the side. Its a shame that among such connisseurs of bourbon, some could have such poor taste is Scotch.

 

 

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