A new, experimental Scotch blend from Johnnie Walker has been given an enthusiastic thumbs up by some of New York’s most influential mixologists and bartenders when it replaced traditional American rye whiskey in a classicManhattan cocktail.
Johnnie Walker Blenders‘ Batch is a new range of experimental whiskies and the first release, Johnnie Walker Blenders‘ Batch Red Rye Finish, is inspired by the bold flavours of American whiskey. It was created by the whisky maker’s small team of expert blenders, led by master blender Jim Beveridge.
At any one time there are hundreds of ongoing flavour experiments being carried out by the blending team inScotland, and Red Rye Finish is whisky fans’ first chance to taste the results of some of these.
To mark the release of Red Rye Finish, which can be enjoyed neat but was designed specifically to create perfect cocktails at home, Johnnie Walker blender Emma Walker journeyed from Edinburgh to the home of the Manhattanto see how the new Scotch blend stacks up against its American cousins. Her adventure can be seen in a new film from the Scotch whisky maker entitled: Blenders‘ Batch – Emma‘s Red Rye In New York.
A tentative Emma put Red Rye Finish before the eyes, noses and palates of some of New York’s most influential mixologists and taste-makers including Dave Arnold, founder and president of the Museum of Food and Drink and owner of the cutting edge Booker and Dax; legendary bartender-cum-philosopher Peter Napolitano of Brooklyn’sMelody Lanes Bowling Alley; and bitters and mixology expert Sother Teague, beverage director at Amor y Amargo inManhattan’s East Village.
Emma said: “We’re proud of every blend we make and know that people choose Johnnie Walker because of its quality. This blend combines all the characteristics of Scotch, matured in first fill American Oak casks with a Rye Cask finish. That’s something I think people won’t expect and I wanted truthful, face-to-face feedback from the people in the know. I was a bit nervous – getting the approval of New York’s top mixology experts for a Manhattanfeaturing a Johnnie Walker blend instead of traditional American whiskey but, happily, it went really well.”
In the film, Dave Arnold – well known for his whip-smart commentary and opinion – is in no doubt: “There’s an old drink called a Rob Roy which is like a Manhattan but made using Scotch and I hate that drink. But this Red Rye Finish Manhattan drinks like a ‘real’ Manhattan. It’s delicious.” While Sother Teague added: “I’m really into this whisky.”
Blenders‘ Batch – Emma‘s Red Rye In New York has been made as part of the Storyline initiative from Johnnie Walker that sees the brand working with a global network of storytellers – including writers, directors, photographers and filmmakers – to give people a voice to tell inspiring stories of positivity and progress.
Filmmaker Oliver Würffell was fascinated by the film’s characters: “The richness of the personalities in the film revealed a completely new world for me. Like discovering the incredible complexity and craft that goes into creating a whisky like Red Rye Finish, or seeing how Emma thinks about how it will work in the hands of legends like Dave, Jack and Sother was amazing. It’s a great story to be able to tell.”
Johnnie Walker Blenders‘ Batch Red Rye Finish is one of the results of hundreds of ongoing experiments into flavour that take place at the brand’s home in Scotland. It includes malt and grain whiskies aged in first-fill bourbon casks and finished in rye casks. It took more than 50 experiments exploring 203 malt and grain whisky samples to hit upon Red Rye Finish and it was created using a blend of just four whiskies, including Cardhu single malt for its vibrant, fresh fruitiness, along with creamy, vanilla grain whisky from Port Dundas.
Jim Beveridge said: “Johnnie Walker Blenders‘ Batch Red Rye Finish is inspired by my own fascination with the bold flavours of American whiskies which first developed while I was working with bourbons and ryes in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1990s.
“When making blended Scotch whisky, we like to think ‘from the bar back’, ensuring bartenders and people at home have the perfect liquids at hand to serve neat, on the rocks, or as the foundation of a flawless Scotch-based cocktail – such as Emma’s Red Rye Finish Manhattan.
“In the case of Red Rye Finish, the end result is an incredibly contemporary whisky. It is smooth, sweet and deliberately light – to my mind, the complex character of Scotch given an exciting twist inspired by the best traditional American whiskey flavours.”
The Johnnie Walker Blenders‘ Batch range lifts the lid on the skill and never-ending pursuit of flavour that drives the blending team. At any one time, there are hundreds of experiments into flavour being carried out by theJohnnie Walker blenders which include the study of distillation conditions, the types of wood and grain used, cask finishes and other elements of whisky-making in the pursuit of exceptional new flavours.
Johnnie Walker Blenders‘ Batch Red Rye Finish is available from September in more than 50 countries with an RRP of €20.
You can watch the film of Emma’s make-or-break adventure in Manhattan here: https://youtu.be/wq8lPbTKr08
To make the perfect Red Rye Finish Manhattan at home:
Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2oz. Johnnie Walker Blenders‘ Batch Red Rye Finish with 1/2oz. sweet vermouth; 1/2 oz. dry vermouth and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir well, for about 20 seconds, then strain into cocktail glass. Add cherry or twist lemon peel directly over drink to release essential oils, and serve.