Find the previous entry in the series, “Blended Part I – Debunking” here.
Now taking off where we last left. The world of Blending as we know it, is one filled with the dreams, ambitions and brilliance of many men. But few have dominated the modern whisky market as Walker, Dewar and Chivas have.
Lets first however take a look at how blended whisky came to be. At the turn of the late 1800’s, efficiency was the name of the game when it came to this spirit. Most distillers wanted to cut costs against the raging taxes to float in an increasingly competitive market.
Men such as Aenis Coffey spent their lives trying to produce increasingly efficient machines… The Coffey still, being a a hallmark for distillation in general. Their contribution allowed for the blended whisky scene to expand.
It allowed for more foreign income, through global distribution (consider that the majority of Indians consider Johnnie Walker as the beginning and end of premium whisky).
Even today in the capital of the UK, London, blended whisky accounts for the majority portion of whisky sales. But it wasn’t until Prohibition in America that the world started demanding for lower alcohol volume spirits, that wouldn’t attract the eye of an increasingly stringent government. Blended whisky was the answer to the question.
With all this said, I believe it is time to delve into 3 of the biggest houses of whisky – Johnnie Walker, Dewar and Chivas;
- JOHNNIE WALKER
John Johnie Walker started his claim to fame when he sold his whisky at a grocery store, as a result of a 417 pound inheritance from his father. Interestingly, he was a teetotaller. Never drank, but produced a well recognised brand that despite a flood in 1852, stayed strong as a recognised brand.
But it wasn’t until his son Alexander Walker, a tea blending specialist came into the picture, that the brand really took off. The biggest example being his Old Highland Whisky brand, that today is known as Black Label.
His brilliance was also seen in the idea of using the square design in 1860. This allowed more bottles to be shipped and supplied in the same place. The angle of the label, at 24 degrees to increase the texts prominence was also his idea.
From 1906 to 1909, John’s grandsons George and Alexander II expanded the line and changed the name to Johnnie Walker, as we know it today. The slogan “Born 1820—Still going Strong!” was created, along with the Striding Man logo, a figure used in their advertisements to this day.
The illustration however being created by Tom Browne in honour of the founder, and given the same name.
JOHNIE WALKER BLACK LABEL- 40%
NOSE: Amber ripe black fruit, jammy notes, raisins
PALATE: Ripe and rich, silky and dark
FINISH: Long with some fragrant smoke
CONCLUSION: Mature and soft, oak elements integrated beautifully into the final product
Witness, the most internationally awarded scotch brand. 500 medals, the No. 1 selling Scotch brand in the US. I can go on for a while… it’s a symbol of history.
John Dewar was born in 1805 in a croft, two miles away from Aberfeldy (HQ of Dewars Today). Apprenticed as a humble carpenter, he headed to Perth after years of toil, to join some distant relatives who were into the wine business. In 40 years time he had his own business, and by the end of the century, he was selling half a million cases worldwide.
In 1895, his sons, Alexander and Tommy planned to build a new distillery, at Speyside (an area that was doing very well for itself) – which today produces one of the finest single malt whiskys as well. A final tribute to a man who today has cemented his place in history.
WHITE LABEL – 40% ABV
NOSE: Honey notes, light fruit, peach, apple
PALATE: Honey, oak, vanilla, medium bodied
FINISH: Good length, honeyed finish
CONCLUSION: Sweet, light, and fun.
For our final entry, we come back to grocery stores for our origin story. But this time one sold luxury food stuffs; spices, brandies, coffee and such. So much so that they were commissioned with a royal warrant, to supply goods to queen Victoria herself.
This led to James Chivas to come up with the idea of blending his own whisky based on some affluent clients requests. In the 1900’s, trying to enter the US market however they came up with a brand that still holds true today – CHIVAS REGAL. With a smoothness and floral aroma that is unto its own, it stands as a style statement to all brands today.
CHIVAS REGAL – 40% ABV
NOSE : Apple, floral, fragrant, nutty, creamy
PALATE: Light, with green fruit
FINISH: Short and lightly spiced
CONCLUSION: Light and delicate
Next week will bring you all a special surprise, we are excited and hope you will support us full force, like you have so far.
Till then … over and out.