Review: Battle of the Blends 2015 Blend A (Neil Ridley)
Category: Blended Scotch Whisky
Origin: Various (see below)
Bottling: Whisky Magazine
What they say:
The rules were very simple:
1. The first fill will be a Highland malt, Clynelish, of equal measure (1 litre).
2. All the regions of Scotland need to be incorporated: Islands (which includes Islay), Speyside, Highlands (already accounted for), Lowlands and Campbeltown. There is no order as to when these are used, but in each issue, the details of the whisky must be revealed but not the quantity.
3. No bottle of whisky used must cost more than £50 RRP except for the wildcard detailed below and must be commercially available in UK.
4. There must be at least one grain whisky but there are no rules as to its origin.
5. A wildcard must be chosen – this can be anything, from anywhere. The only rule here, is that it cannot be over £150 RRP. Also it must be commercially available in UK.
6. The blend must be under 50% ABV when finally bottled.
7. A minimum of 15 litres of blend must be prepared.
8. There are no rules as to how much of each individual whisky category that you can add.
9. The blend must be complete by 1 September 2015 when it will be sent out for tasting and the the closing date is 9 October 2015.
Neil Ridley’s blend: Springbank 10 Years Old, Hazelburn 12 Years Old, Overeem Port Cask (Tasmania), Bowmore Darkest, Arran Machrie Moor, Highland Park Svein, Glenkinchie 12 Years Old, Auchentoshan Three Wood, Nikka Coffey Grain No Age Statement, Dailuaine 16 Years Old, Aberlour 12 Years Old, Clynelish 14 Years Old
Tasting Note for Blend A
Nose: Fruitcake, marzipan, oily oranges and cherries, all quite sweet. There’s some Port in there too, vanilla, a little new leather and a hint of mainland peat, cinnamon buns. Fruit Salad sweets emerge with water.
Palate: Lighter than expected, oak, grapefruit and chocolate truffles. Maryland cookies, a little gingerbread and some delicious fig rolls develop.
Finish: Lingering fruity fig tang with hints of praline.
In conjunction with Master of Malt, the two blends were sent out to 270 potential judges of which 259 judges responded. Neil achieved 59 per cent of the votes.
What I say:
So along with 269 other whisky-interested peoples I was asked to help with the judging of the Whisky Magazine Battle of the Blends competition 2015 which pitted Neil Ridley against Dave Broom. The samples were coded A or B with a slight variance in ABV and colour so were appraised and scored blind.
Russet amber gold (12/20) loose medium-sized tears with medium legs
Spicy ginger and cinnamon, fruity and leathery, dried fruits & sherry, golden syrup & honey, plum, fig, chocolate, toffee oak wood, waxed and oiled old/antique oak wood, salt caramel, toffee-coated popcorn.
Powdered cinnamon spice, cinder toffee, toffee oak, leather, sherry, peppery and chilli heat, ashen peat smoke, savoury and bitter with vanilla essence and lemon juice.
Medium-long, savoury, bitter and salty
Between the two blends this one tasted older and more complex, a little less integration of flavours overall than blend B but a nice mix of salt and spice.
Thanks to Jake at Master Of Malt, Drinks By The Dram and Whisky Magazine for the samples.