8 easy steps to blend your own whiskey
For a whiskey connoisseur, a large part of the fun is in discovering new favorites and striving to find something totally unique. So, why should distillers have all the fun? Now you can DIY pretty much anything, and that includes your own blended whiskey. “Blending is a creative art,” John Glaser, founder and whiskey maker at Compass Box Whisky, which specializes in the innovative blending of whiskies told the Whisky Advocate.
And just about anyone can experiment with creating new whiskey blends at home. The benefits are numerous: for one, it’s a way to use up bottles you have sitting on your shelf. Blending is also a way to combine whiskeys from different distilleries and styles, giving the most die-hard whiskey fan a much broader palette of flavors. There are no hard and fast rules for creating a blended spirit, but you don’t want to throw liquors together without any thoughts because it’s about finding the right nuance and balance. Start with these eight easy steps to blend your own whiskey. Who knows, maybe you’ll create a desired flavor profile that’s better than your favorite bottle of whiskey!
Start with a base whiskey
The biggest key with the base whiskey you start with is that it has to be one that really appeals to you because it can dictate the flavor of the entire bottle. Everyone has their go-to favorites, which one is yours? Do you like rye over bourbon? Are you a fan of grain whiskey instead? Start with one and stick with it as your base. And don’t forget to label the bottle so you can cross-reference what goes in it.
Add a second whiskey
To get the most out of your blend, try selecting a second whiskey that would be a contrast to the first. Did you start with a sweet, vanilla-flavored Bourbon? Maybe try a smokey whiskey next. Or go with a spicy rye to add dimension to the overall flavor. Add a second whiskey and then taste-test the blend.
Don’t go overboard with the number of whiskies you add
If you’re tempted to add a third whiskey, you can, but just don’t go overboard. The key is to try a little bit at a time and see how it tastes. As you add more whiskey to the base, it gets more complicated. If you must add a third, do just a little bit.
Let it marinate
After you’ve added the blends together, let them rest for at least 12 hours. For optimal tasting let the blend sit overnight as it takes a while for whiskies to marry together. Once you’ve allowed the whiskey flavors to combine, sample the blend again. A word of caution: do not shake the bottle as it can completely mess up the entire blend. If you feel a little mixing is necessary, it’s ok to gently rock the bottle.
It takes trial and error to find the right blend
Throwing a bunch of whiskey flavors together is really not the end goal for blending. It’s more so about finding a delicate balance and flavor nuance. A lot of things may taste good on their own but taste horrible together. You have to be willing to experiment to elevate your blending skills. It takes trial and error and patience to master the art of blending!
You can fix a blend you don’t like
Hold it! Just because you create a blend you don’t immediately like, there’s no sense in trashing it. The solution? Add a one- or two-year-old whiskey. A young whiskey can help to neutralize some of the flavor. As with the steps before, let it rest and then taste it again.
More is not always better
With blending, you have know when to stop. Because adding more can ruin the flavor completely. If you find a flavor profile that you like, resist the temptation to keep tinkering.
Rinse and repeat
The joy of creating an “infinity” bottle is that it’s never truly empty. As the bottle depletes over time, consider trying out a new blend. You may find that the next blends keep getting better and better.
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