Despite their boozy DNA being very different from each other. Wine and whisky share a surprising amount of common ground. On a technical level - they’re both tales of flavours derived from fermentation. Barrel aging is most certainly a thing in both worlds, as is blending. In fact, as blenders in whisky we look over the fence into wine world sometimes with misty eyes. Blending isn’t just accepted in wine world - it’s very much celebrated! We digress.
This is not the view from our blending studio in Leith. But on this day it tasted like it.
The idea for Experience N.7 came about on a misty October afternoon in Leith as Pete was working his way through a parcel of potential casks we had the opportunity to purchase. He’d already found a beauty of a Speysider, alive with ripe pear flavours and a honeyed sweetness. And so it was, that despite the miniscule amount of heating emanating from our studio radiator, the mood was buoyant.
We were talking about wine, which, it turns out, we often do. Either we’re discussing casks (whisky brands are more and more looking to wine barrels for maturation) or we’re waxing lyrical about some article that’s been served to us by an algorithm that seems to be goading us with tales of a new generation of wine makers who are challenging perceptions (and winning!) by re-imagining varieties that people had written off when it came to ‘good’ or ‘interesting’. It must be said that there’s more inspiration to be had in the world of wine making than the world of whisky making right now. More on that later.
Anyway, As is now routine, Pete raises a glass toward his nose in anticipation of what might lie within. Boom! There it was. No other word for it. Chardonnay. As tasting notes go, it’s not very descriptive - a broad church, so to speak, but it was unmistakable. White wine, and Chardonnay in particular. The brightness of ripe fruit, buttery-ness of soft oak, and a sort of gentle transition back and forth between the two that perplexed the mind. ‘Yummy.’
Yummy is an interesting word. We also talk about that a lot. It doesn’t mean anything, but in our world it really does. When Pete says ‘Yummy’ it’s a case of everyone stopping what they’re doing in the studio and suddenly Pete has an audience (often of two). At this point convention dictates that he has to qualify his yummy, (with other words) and because his brain wasn’t necessarily thinking in words it is a magical moment where something just emerges from his mouth that is, we believe, amongst the rawest, purest tasting notes on planet earth. In this case it was one word. ‘Chardonnay’. “It actually tastes like a really lovely chardonnay!”
And so it was.
We spent the next month hunting for more whiskies that had these similar characteristics. Some naturally derived through the product of distillation - others pulling on their time in wine casks for their notes of tannin, and bright fruit flavour.
Experience N. 7 Sees malt and grain whiskies from around Scotland emerge from Ex Bourbon casks, Ex (Appleton Estate) Rum Casks, and Sherry casks, blended with what we’re fast calling ‘mouthfeel malts’ from Campbeltown. A drop of Islay Single Malt that we had left over from our first collection that spent the last four months in a red wine cask is the crowing glory of this neat little blend. It is round, mouth coating, slightly peppery. Bright, yet burnt orange. Pleasing, and hopefully… Yummy!
We always try and think beyond the blend- creating a tasty whisky is actually a very small part of the puzzle in our mission to bring better blends to the world. One of the whole whisky industries issues is usability (a word we invented?). ‘The rules’ (spoiler alert – there are no rules) put people off experimenting with different ways on how to drink their whisky.
So let’s get something on the record: Drink your whisky any way that you like it. If that’s neat – super. If that’s ‘wine style’…50:50 with ice cold mineral water in a fancy wine glass then you’re in luck… because that is EXACTLY how we are imagining people will drink Experience N.7, a whisky inspired by in more ways than one the wondrous goings on in the wine world, where a new crop of wine makers are re-imaging these prolific varieties to create something new, something interesting and worthy of re-consideration.
Drink Experience N.7 Like a Chardonnay sipper.
50ml Experience N.7
50ml Ice cold mineral water
Fancy ass wine glass.