Johnnie Walker Experiments with Flavor in “Blenders’ Batch” Series

There’s something brewing in the world of Whiskey. Or maybe blending is the right word.

Johnnie Walker has recently unveiled a new series of flavor experiments: three limited edition variants that will surely excite whiskey fans. The first flavor that kicks off the series is called the Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish.

Created by Johnnie Walker’s master blender Jim Beveridge and his team of blenders, the final mix that made it to the Red Rye Finish bottles took a lot of experimentation. Before coming up with the perfect blend that would be worthy of the Johnnie Walker brand name, it took more than 50 experiments involving 204 malt and grain whiskey samples. Finally they came up with the perfect blend, and that’s what you can taste today – until supplies last.

Red Rye Finish

The expert blending team at Johnnie Walker has been experimenting with various techniques that involve brewing, distillation, and maturation. The flavor of Scotch whiskey will be affected by these techniques, and coming up with the perfect blend is not an easy feat.

The Johnnie Walker Red Rye Finish is a unique blend of three different grains. This includes whiskey from the Port Dundas distillery and single malt from Cardhu, expertly matured using first-fill Bourbon casks and then finished in carefully chosen rye casks.

Going on the flavor route has challenged the blending team at Johnnie Walker to take it a step further and do things differently compared to how they used to do them. For one, coming up with the Red Rye Finish is the first time that they actually considered how it will be used or mixed in cocktails. This is a very new approach for the Johnnie Walker blending team, and as Jim Beveridge confirms, “Considering what the serve will be was very much behind how we created this.”

Because they have thought of the serve, the signature serve for the Red Rye will be a Scotch Whiskey Manhattan or a Rob Roy. That’s made of 60mL Scotch, 15mL sweet vermouth, 15mL dry vermouth, and dash Angostura bitters.

But what does it taste like, exactly?

According to Beveridge, this flavor expression is still very much your American whiskey, but mixed with the light flavors and style of Irish and Japanese whiskey. The final product is a blend of four whiskies, including flavors that can be described as “vibrant, fresh fruitiness” (Cardhu single malt) and “creamy, vanilla” (Port Dundas grain whiskey). “The end result is an incredibly contemporary whiskey. It is smooth, sweet and deliberately light – to my mind the best of Scotch given an exciting twist inspired by the best of traditional American whiskey flavors,” Beveridge remarks.

He says the blend was inspired by his fascination for the bold flavors that have always characterized American whiskies. From as early as 25 years ago, Beveridge has worked with Bourbons and ryes in Louisville, Kentucky, so he clearly knows what he’s doing.

The Red Rye finish is now available in select global markets, as will the other two when they get launched. In terms of price range, you can get the Red Rye for more or less the same price as the Red Label. However, the other two will price closer to the Black Label.

Blender’s Batch

The full Blender’s Batch is a great innovation altogether, and while the Red Rye Finish is an exciting flavor, you can also look forward to the other flavors. The Red Rye is, after all, only the first of three that will be released this year.

Johnnie Walker Global Brand Director Guy Escolme says, “Our blenders are constantly experimenting and this is an exciting time for the brand with the release of Red Rye Finish. The Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch range lifts the lid on the skill and never-ending pursuit of flavor that drives the blending team.”

To complete the range, the second offering from the Blenders’ Batch is the Bourbon Cask and Rye Finish, which is a 40% abv blend of malt and grain whiskies, which have been matured in American oak and finished in rye casks. The third flavor is the Triple Grain American Oak, which is a 41% abv blend consisting of wheat, barley, and maize whiskies that have been matured in first-fill Bourbon casks.

Following the first batch and even more trials, Johnnie Walker plans to release three new experimental expressions every single year. The next flavors are even more exciting, as they’re completely different from anything Johnnie Walker has ever done before.

Everything is still under wraps, but the new flavors could include something really unexpected and with no connection to the three that they are releasing this year. Think of chocolate malt and different yeast strains, or something totally crazy and out of the box.

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