Johnnie Walker Red Rye leads new seriesBy Annie Hayes
Diageo-owned blended Scotch Johnnie Walker has launched the first expression in its experimental Blenders’ Batch series, Johnnie Walker Red Rye.
Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish was created by the brand’s team of blenders, led by master blender Jim Beveridge, and took more than 50 experiments exploring 203 malt and grain whisky samples to hit upon the final recipe.
The expression features a blend of malt and grain whiskies aged in first-fill Bourbon casks and finished in rye casks.
Four whiskies make up Red Rye Finish, including Cardhu single malt for its “vibrant, fresh fruitiness”, along with “creamy, vanilla” grain whisky from Port Dundas.
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.
“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.”
At any one time there are “hundreds” of flavour experiments being carried out by Johnnie Walker blenders, ranging from distillation conditions to wood and grain types.
Guy Escolme, global brand director at Johnnie Walker, said: “Our blenders are constantly experimenting and this is an exciting time for the brand with the release of Red Rye Finish. The Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch range lifts the lid on the skill and never-ending pursuit of flavour that drives the blending team.”
To mark the launch, Johnnie Walker blender Emma Walker travelled to Manhattan to showcase Red Rye Finish before Dave Arnold, founder and president of the Museum of Food and Drink and owner of Booker and Dax; 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: “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 Manhattan featuring a Johnnie Walker blend instead of traditional American whiskey but, happily, it went really well.”
Walker’s adventure can be seen in a new film entitled: Blenders’ Batch – Emma’s Red Rye In New York, and forms part of the of the brand’s latest initiative that sees Johnnie Walker working alongside a global network of storytellers including writers, directors, photographers and filmmakers.
Beveridge added: “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.”
Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish is available from September in more than 50 countries with an RRP of €20.
Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Bourbon Cask and Rye Finish and Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Triple Grain American Oak are pipped to follow the new expression in the future.