Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whiskey Wednesday: The Revival of American Blended Whiskey?

It seems as though nearly every spirit category has made a comeback in premium form in the last ten years. First it was single malts, then tequila and bourbon, followed by gin, rye, rum, mezcal, absinthe and now Canadian Whisky. Well, I try my best to be ahead of the curve, so I am getting out front in order to become the go-to blogger in my own category: American Blended Whiskey.

I am hereby announcing that American Blended Whiskey will be the next big thing. Now, I'm not talking about those high quality blends of straight whiskey that High West puts out. I'm talking about the real thing. To quote the official regulations, blended whiskey is:

[A] mixture which contains straight whisky or a blend of straight whiskies at not less than 20 percent on a proof gallon basis, excluding alcohol derived from added harmless coloring, flavoring or blending materials, and, separately, or in combination, whisky or neutral spirits.

For you non-lawyers out there, that's 20% whiskey (usually bourbon) and the other 80%composed of vodka and "harmless coloring, flavoring or blending materials." Mmmmmm, blending materials.

Think about it. Premium bourbon is huge but premium vodka is even bigger, so it only makes sense that combining the two would be the next big thing. It's only a matter of time before we start seeing 30 year old Kessler's in a hand blown plastic handle.

So from now on, Sku's Recent Eats will be your go to stop for reviews, history and commentary about American Blended Whiskey. Here are some of the posts I'm working on:

  • The Story of the Seagram's Seven, seven rectifiers jailed for their craft - putting neutral spirits and food coloring in their Bourbon.

  • Why plastic bottles are superior to glass.

  • How Kirin ruined Four Roses.

And I'll be doing some home experiments as well. I got me a bottle of Stagg, a bottle of Absolut and some old Easter egg dye, so I'm ready to go. Stay tuned!


Regular Chumpington said...

Time to become the American Compass Box.

sam k said...

Jesus wept...

Chuck Cowdery said...

Actually, American blends more along the Scottish or Canadian model could be the Next Big Thing.

sku said...

Do tell Chuck. What would that look like?

Anonymous said...

No one yet has attempted a North American superblend.

You know a combination of canadians, american ryes, wheats and bourbouns.

Philips Union is the only one I know that could even come close to that.

I can only dream of a superblend. I would know what I would want to see in it.

BTW, too bad they upped the GNS in 7 Crown at Diageo. It was not bad before as a mixer's whiskey. Now it seems cheaper than ever. They should have left that one alone. It was once America's best selling whiskey.

Anonymous said...

By the way, for a superblend, it would mean all whiskey components -- no unaged GNS! No artificial colouring nor flavours.

Canadian style base whiskeys could be used to a lesser degree -- e.g. max 40 %, however, the idea here is to get flavour and balance. GNS would be out of the question.

The Canadian style blending techniques could be used without the 9.09% non-whiskey junk and artificial colours. It would be nice to see the bourbons and ryes sing together with a little malt and wheat thrown in.

Lew Bryson said...

Now, Sam...I think Chuck's right on the money here, so to speak. There IS no American equivalent of the better Scotch blends right now, and there's room for it...or there would be, if straight bourbon wasn't still so damned cheap. That's the real reason American blended whiskey is in the crapper: you can get a 750 of GOOD straight bourbon for under $15, like Evan Williams or Very Old Barton, just to name two. Why would you want to pay even $5 less for something that's at least 50% GNS?