Experience N.5 was a favourite of ours, we were sad to see the last few bottles leave the warehouse. However, inspiration behind its creation is still evocative for us today. We spent long periods of time during lockdown wandering through the countryside discussing the project that went on to become Woven. Of course, it is hardly surprising that nature had the most transformative effect on our beings; time in nature is well documented as a powerful treatment to heal the wounds inflicted by the intensity of the modern world. The first batch of Experience N.5 was a meditation on the subtle effects that different wood types could have on a spirit. But as the memory of N.5 remained fresh in our minds, we encountered samples that we felt could lend themselves to the same sort of experience. Verdent, green and delicate malts with a certain freshness about them. Each time we came across one, we popped it aside until we realised that we probably had enough variety to take a look at recreating the same Experience N.5 had sought to evoke, albeit with a different formulation and recipe.
This is an interesting juncture for us. The continuation of a previously expressed theme. Are we aiming for an identical replacement of the original batch? No. We simply don’t have the depth in stocks, and the nature of many of the whiskies we source is such that most of the things we buy are unique - interesting or obscure whiskies that capture our attention for one reason or another. So the whisky recipe is different - but we want the taste profile to be recognisably similar. And as well suited to the overall theme as it’s predecessor. So let’s get into the liquid now.
The heart of this whisky is a blended malt from Campbeltown. This liquid is special to us as most of our early blends contained it. We found it to be a great tool for building blends. Pete describes it as heavy, and patient. We valued the depth that this Campbeltown gives us, a very subtle oiliness. To this we added a lovely organic grain whisky, created a long, long time ago way before organic was a ‘thing’. How it came into being we’ve no idea, and the story of how we ended up with this cask is for another time. But it’s exceptional stuff. Old, deep and simply delicious. Now we have oily apples going on.
Glasgow distillery. Tropical fruits, a biscuity sweetness. Delicate but no pushover. Quite at home in the blend, and pulling way more than its weight in flavour vs dosage. They have no intention of filling casks for blenders - but it is spectacular stuff. At the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of purpose is well aged Glentauchers, a distillery that is almost exclusively used for blends having been built by Balentines and now under the Chivas stable. An underrated distillery that produces a fine distillate. Some lovely grassy grain whisky from Loch Lomond provided a finishing touch, a lightness that was required as there was almost too much age in the blend it risked not feeling ‘green’ or fresh enough to fit the overall feel we wanted.
Assembling this blend on our table was an enjoyable experience. Each of the ingredients added something to the picture that we were trying to arrive at. Because we had Experience N.5 as a reference we circled round a few times debating which version of the blend felt like the right continuation of the Experience started by the first batch. But even though this wasn’t an exercise in search of consistency, we did want to try and connect the batches so that we could be confident that anyone that had enjoyed Experience N.5 would be sure to enjoy Experience N.5.1.
Where we arrived to is certainly a balanced and integrated, verdant Experience befitting the ’theme’ of N.5 - but N.5.1 exhibits a subtle smokiness that wasn’t present in the first batch. Perhaps making it slightly more balanced. We married this in an Ex-Port cask, adding a cloak of subtle richness towards the mid palate that directly references the signature notes of Exp N.5.
We felt it important to mark the second batch as something different. Hence the .1 which denotes the batch. Will there be a .2? Who knows, but we’re excited to see how people respond to the idea of a consistent experience underpinned by inconsistent formulation. In essence all bends are made like this - but we’re just told everything’s the same as it has always been. But whisky is a natural product, produced in batches. Like a walk in the forest - no two versions of the same thing are ever exactly the same. That’s what makes it so magical.