September 29, 2009

Liveblog: Johnnie Walker Art of Blending Webinar

vito_scotch.jpgWe forced one of our interns to live blog the Johnnie Walker Webinar while we're tasting. We know he doesn't know a thing about Scotch, but...don't miss anything Vito. And now, we give our full attention to Andrew Ford, master distiller for Johnnie Walker.

3:06 - Finally get online - with sound no thanks to our stupid speakers. Come in late for Johnnie Walker's history.
3:07 - We've been good. When will this nice Scottish gentleman let us start drinking whisky?
3:09 - Alexander Walker invents the square bottle. Other stuff.
3:16 - Someone asks a question about the legality of blending in Scotland back in the day. Let's get to tasting.
3:17 - Lowland whisky, lighter. Smokey whiskies out in the north coast...e.g. Islay. Speyside is full of distilleries...which is where the first distillery the Walkers bought was. We check out the flavor map...very science-y.
3:18 - Did he say time to taste?
3:21 - Forgot to follow directions -- running into kitchen for water
3:22 - "The right way to drink whisky -- Any way you like it." We love this guy. But if you're tasting go half strength (1/2 water, 1/2 scotch)
3:23 - Yum. Grain whisky. Feeling like a mad scientist using a graduated cylinder to measure out booze. "Grain whisky is the unsung whisky of Johnnie Walker"
3:27 - More science.
3:29 - Lowland malt is still a light whisky, but far "scotchier" than the grain. Someone tries to guess which malt we're sipping...and nails it. Turns out this little bottle has 12 year old whisky or more.
3:32 - On to Speyside malt. Still light and fruity compared to the smokier guys higher up the scale. So basically a breakfast scotch.
3:34 - Cardhu Speyside representing in Johnnie Walker but not the biggest factor.
3:36 - Scottish guy talks about how he went into a cold Scottish moor to get sherry cask malt delivered to us in time for this presentation.
3:38 - Sherry cask malt is f'ing delicious.
3:40 - The size of the cask affects the taste of the liquor. Or in other words, it's the size of the wood AND what you do with it. Also, things tend to happen slower with Sherry than with Bourbon, which we knew.
3:42 - Nosing...do you keep your mouth open or closed? The answer - figure out what works best for you to really hit that scent button and figure them out.
3:43 - Highland Malt from the West coast. Tend to be a bit more robust than lowland/Speyside. Definitely getting peatier, with some sea tastes. w00t!
3:45 - Admits he has no idea how flavors of the sea get into it. We're guessing magic.
3:47 - You'll be happy to know that peat is not going to run out anytime soon.
3:48 - Welcome to Smoke Town, population Island Malt
3:49 - Pouring all the malts we're supposed to dumping out into a pint glass science experiment
3:51 - Islay malt. Holy smokes. Tastes like your pants smell after a campfire.
3:52 - Starting to get buzzed.
3:54 - Color of scotch has more to do with the cask it was aged in than anything else. Who knew?
3:58 - It's interesting to try Black Label after tasting all those whiskies. We've always gone for big, smokey whisky, but this has opened up a lot of doors for us.
3:59 - Time to make our own blends. Argument has begun among the interns whether we're going to use the beaker/mad scientist route, or just make "mouth mixes" directly from the bottle. We'll probably land somewhere in between.
4:01 - Question about Andrew's favorites for singles - Talisker is at the top. Hmm...he seems to like Diageo brands...good thing he works for them.
4:05 - Black label is a blend of ~40 whiskies (malts and grains).
4:06 - Off to blend. Thanks Andrew!

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at September 29, 2009 3:05 PM
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