Monday, 7 November 2016

Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch "Red Rye Finish" Australian Launch (Tasted #323)

Following the recent launch of the Johnnie Walker Select Casks - Rye Cask Finish in Australia, Johnnie Walker has officially launched another limited edition experimental expression -  Red Rye Finish. Forming part of a series of limited edition experimental Scotch blends dubbed the "Blenders' Batch", the Red Rye has now been released into various markets including Australia.

Bottled at 40% ABV, the Red Rye Finish contrasts with the Select Casks Rye Cask Finish which is bottled at a higher ABV of 46%. The Red Rye blend exclusively uses malt and grain whiskies from first-fill ex-bourbon casks, with an emphasis on the use Cardhu malt to embed the soft and earthy notes Cardhu is known for. The blend is then finished for around six months in ex-rye whiskey casks, a particularly challenging task for Master Blender Jim Beveridge and his team given rye notes can often take over the final product.

Having spoken to Sean Baxter, the Diageo Malt Ambassador at the launch, we suspect that only a small number of distinct malt whiskies had been used to create this particular blend; we guessed around six different whiskies - a far cry from other Johnnie Walker mainstream blends which can marry up to 40 different whiskies.

The Red Rye has been uniquely positioned for use in cocktails, allowing an infusion of both classic malt and rye whiskies in the one expression. In fact, Red Rye has been pitched as a good substitute to replace American bourbon whiskies in classic cocktails such as the Manhattan or the New Yorker. Neat, the Red Rye Finish is a rather soft and subtle blend with the subtlety of rye spices on the nose and palate. Read on for my full take on the blend below.


The focus on rye by Jim and his team of blenders has been said to follow the increasing trend globally of rye and bourbon whiskies appreciation. From a mixologist's perspective, Red Rye, Select Rye and the upcoming Johnnie Walker experimental blends provide another dimension for them to work with. 

At the launch, four Red Rye based cocktails were showcased on the night with a mix of classics and new;
  • Rye-talian; Red Rye, Cascara Campari, blood orange, potato maple made in-house by Bouche on Bridge;
  • Rye and Dry; Red Rye, Capi ginger ale, basil
  • New Yorker; Red Rye, lemon, grenadine
  • Red Rye Manhattan; Red Rye, Dolin rouge, bitters
Crafted by Matt Linklater, Lead Bartender of newly established bar eatery Bouche on Bridge (ex Bulletin Place) and Sean Baxter, the four cocktails played with variations of classic ingredients together with the Red Rye and were served with matching canapés such as the oyster, blood orange and granita shown below. My pick of the four was the New Yorker which I thought was a refreshing take of the classic with a subtle rye note throughout.


Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch - Red Rye Finish (40% ABV, NAS, Scotland, A$48.90)
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A soft, delicate blend that can please most palates with an added subtle complexity from the rye finish. Used as part of a cocktail, this particular blend can provide a subtle infusion of both classic malt and rye whiskies.

Colour: Faded gold


Nose: The nose is filled with 
rye characters, creamy vanilla, butterscotch, burnt orange, toasted wood chips. Tropical fruits or rather, pineapple followed closely with a peppery mint notes that carried through.

Palate: The palate is soft, delicate, light, buttery with hints of creamy strawberry and cream, followed by peppery spices

Finish: The finish is medium with a lingering minty note on the palate

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.



Cheers,
Hendy

TimeforWhisky.com would like to thank Diageo and Liz of Leo Burnett for the invite to the launch of the Blenders' Batch - Red Rye Finish.

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