Whiskey Blending at Home
The Blending of Malt or grain whiskies from different distilleries.
Whiskey blending or vatting is usually reserved for master blenders(distillers) and is a technique used primarily in the Scotch industry. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. With some spare bourbon and whiskey bottles and a few readily available tools you can be your own whiskey blender. You’re probably wondering., why should I try this? What’s the point? Will the blends taste good? The answer to these questions is “I don’t know”. However, if you’re a bourbon nerd like me this is what you enjoy spending your spare time doing.
We’ve already tested out vatting on this blog with the Poor Man’s Pappy mixture but this is the next step in a Bourbonr’s evolution. Whiskey vatting is a lot like pairing foods with wine. There are two approaches one can take. You can find complementing flavor notes that enhance each other or use contrary whiskies that highlight the others flavors by showing off their differences. Complementary blends would be blending things like Weller 12 and Weller Antique. Contrasting flavors would be blending a spicy high rye bourbon or rye whiskey with a smooth/sweet bourbon.
Tools needed: All of these items are not necessary but I find it easier if you have them. First, you need an airtight container to store the whiskey in. Blends usually taste better after sitting for a week or two but you want to taste as it ages in the container. Second, a small scale is a great way to measure how much of each whiskey goes in to the blend. Third, a hydrometer. You can use a proof calculator to figure this out but for $10 it saves a lot of time/energy when trying to figure out the final proof of the blend. Miscellaneous – it’s a good idea to have a small funnel as well.
Bourbonr Four Roses Small Batch
What is one to do when they’re left with a few ounces from 3 different bottles of Four Roses Single barrel private selection? Blend them together to make your own version of Four Roses small batch. Regular Four Roses Small Batch mash bill consist of OBSO, OBSK, OESO & OESK that are most likely between 5-10 years old. For the Bourbonr Small Batch I mixed OESO, OBSV and OBSK. All of which were between 10-11 years old.
The Bourbonr FR Small batch tasted like brown sugar, orange peel and cinnamon. While not as good as some of the small batch limited editions it far surpassed the regular small batch. Depending on where you live private barreling can be hard to come by but I highly recommend trying this blend out if you get the chance.
For this blend I choose 3 different ryes with a ratio of 20% Thomas H. Handy, 40% Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye and 40% Wild Turkey rye 101. While all 3 whiskies are straight rye whiskey they vary greatly in their mash bills. Thomas Handy is around 51% rye, Smooth Ambler is 95% rye and the WT 101 is around 65% rye. By mixing these 3 ryes with their varying levels of rye, age and proof we’re left with an excellent sweet, slightly spicy and minty drink. If I blend this one again I will probably switch to 20/55/25 Handy/Ambler/WT to increase the high rye flavors.
Barterhard – (recipe credit to JApples42)
When Diageo released the Orphan Barrel Project they received a lot of flak from bourbonrs about their deceiving or shady marketing however when it comes to vatting purposes the Orphan bottles can bring an added level of age and wood to blends. 75% Barterhouse -20% Blowhard -5% Stagg Jr.
This was a part of a blind tasting I participated in that was put on by BourbonTruth. He blended 60% Bernheim wheat whiskey and 40% Wild Turkey Rare Breed. This is a great example of contrasting flavor which combine in to something great.
While it seems like blending is easy. There is definitely an art to it. I tried multiple blends that turned out anywhere from not that good to terrible. There was a Balcones Single Malt/Sazer Rye 6/Corsair Triple Smoke that was poured down the drain. However, you have to experiment with new blends and you may be surprised what turns out best. Finally, if you want to get slightly meta with this post you can try to blend your own blends.