The experimental blend has been created by the brand’s team of blenders, led by master blender Jim Beveridge, and is one of the results of ongoing experiments into flavour that take place at the brand’s home in Scotland.
Johnnie Walker global brand director Guy Escolme, said: “The Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch range lifts the lid on the skill and never-ending pursuit of flavour that drives the blending team.
“Jim and his team have used the same skill and expertise in the creation of Red Rye Finish that underpins the creation of all our whiskies, every day, and this first release will be followed in time by Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Bourbon Cask and Rye Finish and Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Triple Grain American Oak,” said Escolme.
To mark the release of the new blend, Walker blender Emma Walker journeyed from Edinburgh to the home of the Manhattan to see how Red Rye Finish stacks up against its American cousins. Her adventure can be seen in a new film from Johnnie Walker entitled: Blenders’ Batch – Emma’s Red Rye In New York.
Walker 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’s Melody Lanes Bowling Alley; and bitters and mixology expert Sother Teague, beverage director at Amor y Amargo in Manhattan’s East Village.
Walker said: “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 Manhattan featuring 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.”
Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish 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 over 25 years ago.
“When making blended scotch whisky, we like to think ‘from the bar back’, ensuring bartenders 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 best of scotch given an exciting twist inspired by the best of traditional American whiskey flavours.”
Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish is available from September in more than 50 countries with an RRP of €20.