Don’t underestimate the blends

SOMETIMES seen as the poor relation to single malt, interest in blended whisky has been re-ignited by the trend for classic whisky cocktails and some innovative international serving methods. Blended whisky accounts for 92 per cent of global whisky consumption. New territories like the Far East are discovering its promise, especially as part of a long, ice cold drink with food or – in the case of China – mixed with sweetened green tea.

“When you have dishes heavy with spices they tend to call for a more refreshing counterpart – it’s one reason the green tea mixer has become so popular in China,” explains Mark Jenner, Manager of the Connaught Hotel’s Coburg Bar.

In Japan, blended whisky is often served as a highball (whisky and soda) in pint-style mugs from taps. It’s refreshing, easy to drink and perhaps above all else, highly sociable.

As well as being big business for well known brands such as Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal and the soon to be re-launched Cutty Sark label, there’s also a thriving artisanal side to blending whisky. Independent retailer Master Of Malt has just launched its Blend Your Own service [left], allowing you to put a bespoke whisky together from a range of samples. London’s Compass Box has been creating highly innovative blended whiskies for the past decade, focusing on bold flavour statements and modern bottle designs – it’s a bit of a whisky rebel.

John Glaser, master blender behind Compass Box, says blending is a platform for creativity. “It allows you to create something proprietary and more compelling than any of the individual components on their own.”