As whiskey of all kinds continues to become the spirit of choice for many, this has given distillers and blenders the opportunity to flex their creative muscles. So beyond crafting a beautiful brown spirit only known for its smoke or bite, many are now creating whiskies that can be easily paired with food.
Johnnie Walker recently launched three new whiskies: Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Wine Cask Blend, Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Rum Cask Finish and Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Espresso Roast. They are the results of over 100 ongoing Scotch experiments by the brand's small team of 12 expert blenders, and influenced by flavor cultures from around the world.
To celebrate their releases, the brand also launched a series of short films showcasing the blenders' collaboration with taste innovators such as chef Edward Lee, barista James Hoffmann, sommelier André Mack, chef Jason Howard and some of the world's most celebrated bartenders.
The films provide a behind-the-scenes look at some discussions on new taste combinations, with blenders Aimée Gibson and Chris Clark meeting flavor experts and lifting the lid on the whisky maker's ongoing experimentations into flavor - all of which are carried out under the guidance of Master Blender Jim Beveridge at the brand's home in Scotland.
"Our short films are a window into our endless quest for new taste experiences in Scotch," says Beveridge. "Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch whiskies are the result of bold experiments that push the boundaries in flavor - just as Johnnie Walker Black Label did more than a century ago. Over time that experimental blend has gone on to become a true icon of Scotch all around the world."
"We know how to make exceptional Scotch, we've been making it for years," adds Gibson. "However, by opening our doors to some of the world's foremost experts in food and drink, I feel we've been able to unlock new flavor and aroma combinations in our latest whiskies that are culturally relevant and that will excite new and seasoned whisky lovers."
As part of the collaboration, chef and self-confessed whisky obsessive Edward Lee, alongside his fellow flavor experts, were challenged by Gibson and Clark to use their skills to further extend the possibilities of these new whiskies by developing original cocktails.
Using his gastronomic expertise and knowledge of whisky and wine, Chef Lee created the Blueberry Scotch cocktail using Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Wine Cask Blend. "Aimée's knowledge of whisky made this a thrilling journey of discovery in flavor and aromas for me," says Lee. "I learned that the blend I was challenged to play with was curated by Aimée following the outcome of an experiment in maturation with former wine casks set in motion by her mentor Jim Beveridge over ten years ago - now that's dedication to your craft."
For Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Espresso Roast, Gibson experimented with whiskies distilled using barley roasted more heavily than ever before resulting in punchy notes of rich coffee and dark chocolate which have been brought to life in the Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Espresso Roast Speciality cocktail, which features coffee liqueur, sweet vermouth and lemon zest.
The third blend to be released in the range, Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Rum Cask Finish, was the culmination of blender Clark's experimentation with whisky finished in casks which previously held Caribbean pot still rum. Chef Howard played with the whisky's smooth and spicy flavors and believes it is best enjoyed in the Johnnie Walker Rum Cask Blend Steel Drum Cooler cocktail that uses pineapple juice and ginger root.
Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Wine Cask Blend launched in selected countries this month and retails for $29.99. Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Rum Cask Finish and Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Espresso Roast will be available globally next month.