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Ten spirits tapping into the hybrid trend

From a Tequila-mezcal blend to an expression combining Calvados and Scotch whisky, we take a look at 10 innovative cross-category spirits playing with the rules of creativity.

SB presents 10 spirits breaking category conventions

In 2014, we dived into the hybrid spirits trend with 10 products that blended alcohol categories together. With an influx of new hybrid spirits on the market, we thought it was about time we brought our readers the latest selection of cross-category products.

Producers are seeking to attract new consumers and keep the interest of their current customers with products that bring together the worlds of wine and spirits.

Fans of Tequila and mezcal can enjoy a combination of the two created by a former rock star, while whisky lovers can sample the worlds of Irish, Scotch, American, Canadian and Japanese whiskies in a new ‘world whisky’ blend. And there are others experimenting with gin, Calvados and rum, to name a few alternatives.

What’s evident from this burgeoning trend is that the alcoholic beverage industry is not afraid to do away with the rule book and create products that are truly innovative.

Click through the following pages to see our pick of the latest hybrid spirits. 


Japanese whisky maker Suntory merged the worlds of Irish, Scotch, American, Canadian and Japanese whiskies last year with the creation of a ‘world whisky’ blend.

Suntory World Whisky Ao was bottled at 43% ABV, and sought to bring together whiskies from around the world and break down category boundaries. The expression is described as having a “complex and rich flavour”, and is recommended for mixing in a Highball.

The name ‘Ao’ is the Japanese word for ‘blue’, a reference to the seas that link the world’s five most prolific whisky‐making regions. The whiskies used in the blend hail from Beam Suntory’s own distilleries.

For more information, click here.

Santo Mezquila

The brainchild of former Van Halen vocalist Sammy Hagar, Santo Mezquila is a Tequila-mezcal hybrid. It is described as an agave blend, combining 100% Blue Weber agave and 100% Espadin agave, of the Angustifolia variety.

The resulting liquid is said to have an “intense agave aroma” that reveals an “earthy, light smokiness with a hint of herbs”. On the palate, Santo is “mellow”; the “intricate agave flavour and herbal complexity layered with gentle smoke, slight floral fruitiness and low saltiness”.

The liquid was created in collaboration with Juan Eduardo Nuñez, third genera­tion master distiller at El Viejito which is located in Jalisco’s highlands.

Last year, Hagar teamed up with chef Guy Fieri to create Santo Blanco Tequila.

For more information, click here.

Mister Sam

Created by Sazerac’s master blender, Drew Mayville, Mister Sam is a blend of some of the firm’s “finest” American and Canadian whiskies.

The expression was bottled at Sazerac’s Old Montreal Distillery in Quebec, Canada, and is released in limited quantities once a year.

Bronfman, who was affectionately known as ‘Mister Sam’, emigrated from Russia to Canada in the late 1800s and headed up Seagram until his death in 1971.

For more information, click here.

The Brisbane

Spirits producer Fusion Whisky continued to experiment with different blends with the launch of The Brisbane, a mix of Scotch and Australian whisky, in 2018.

The Brisbane was created as part of a collaboration between Alex Bruce of Fife-based Scotch producer Adelphi and David Vitale of Starward Distillery, based in Melbourne, Australia.

It is a blend of two ex-Sherry hogsheads distilled at Glen Garioch, part of an ex-Sherry butt distilled at Glen Grant, and three ex-Apera casks distilled at Starward Distillery.

The expression followed the launch of Fusion’s Scotch-Dutch blend Winter Queen, two Scotch-Indian blends, and a Scotch-Japanese whisky blend, called The Glover.

For more information, click here.

Steel Bonnets

Cumbria-based The Lakes Distillery unveiled the “world’s first” blend of English and Scottish malt whisky in June 2018.

The Lakes Distillery master whisky maker Dhavall Gandhi handpicked the individual malt whiskies used to create the blend – which he described as “something that has never been tried before”.

Bottled at 46.6% ABV, Steel Bonnets has a “creamy, slightly nutty and full-bodied flavour with notes of vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and hints of dried fruit”.

It was followed a year later by The Lakes Distillery’s The One Signature Blend, which contains a combination of Scotch and English whisky.

For more information, click here.

Echo Falls White Wine & Coconut Fusion

Part of the Echo Falls Fusions range, the product is a blend of Echo Falls white wine and a ‘rum fusion’, with coconut and pineapple flavours.

It is bottled at 9% ABV and targets two key audiences: 30-plus females juggling work and family life, and under 30 ‘experiencers’ who “value new and exciting products”.

Echo Falls White Wine and Coconut Rum Fusion followed the release of Echo Falls Rosé Wine and Gin Fusion in March 2019.

For more information, click here.


Maker’s Mark owner Beam Suntory targeted the Indian market with Oaksmith whisky, a blend of Scotch and Bourbon.

Said to combine the “best of east and west in a bottle”, Oaksmith is a blend of imported Scotch malt whisky, Bourbon and grain spirits that are aged for at least four years in American oak barrels. The oak barrels inspired the name of the brand and the round bottle labels.

The new launch aligned with Beam Suntory’s ambition to reach US$1 billion in sales in India by 2030 and is “key” to the firm’s growth strategy in the market.

For more information, click here.

Huxley Rare Genus Whiskey

Diageo’s “experimental whisky collective” Whiskey Union unveiled blended expression Huxley Rare Genus Whiskey in July 2016.

Designed to “take whiskey drinkers into uncharted territory”, Huxley combines Scotch, Canadian and American whiskies to result in a “unique blend even greater than the sum of its parts”.

Whiskey Union was first announced in November 2015, a project established to “push the boundaries of blending”.

For more information, click here.

Compass Box Affinity

The worlds of Scotch and Calvados combined in April 2019 when Compass Box Affinity hit the market. A first for spirits hybrids, the expression blended Domaine Christian Drouin Pays d’Auge XO Calvados from Normandy, France, with a selection of Scotch malt whiskies that had been initially aged in French oak and Sherry casks, before being married with blended Scotch, and matured further in Sherry butts.

The XO Calvados used in the blend is said to give the liquid flavours of apple and sweet fruits that complement the malt, vanilla and spice‐like notes from the whisky. The expression was bottled at 46% ABV.

John Glaser, Compass Box whisky maker, said: “Apples and barley have a long shared history of usage together, particularly in baking. Spirits wise, it isn’t widely known that Calvados producers often double‐distil in pot stills, just like their Scottish cousins.”

For more information, click here.

Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Rye Reserve

Launched in June 2019, Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye is a blend of eight-year-old Kentucky straight rye whiskey and four-year-old Canadian rye whisky.

Black Strap Rum is then added to the blend, which is said to give notes of brown sugar and molasses to the final product.

Bottled at 40% ABV, the expression was available throughout the US for a limited period.

For more information, click here.

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