Devious Vattings Vol. 1

by Oliver Klimek on August 2, 2009

This little post series is nothing for the faint of heart. It is about mixing whisky with other spirits, but not in a cocktail way. But rather I will make a 50/50 mix of two spirits.

Almost all whisky we drink is vatted, be it from different casks of the same distillery or be it as a blended malt or a classic blended whisky. What we have in our glasses then is a combination of many different aromatics that can be sometimes quite far apart like for example peat and toffee.

Now what happens when we take this a step further and widen the range of aromatics by bringing in other spirits. Of course, this is only an experiment and not meant to promote uninhibited and thoughtless mixomania. My stance is purely neutral. I am just very curious sometimes.

The first session features the combination of Armagnac with two different whiskies. To be honest, I only had a relatively simple one at hand (Comtal VS), but after all it’s not about creating the “ultimate drink” but just to see what works and what doesn’t. Armagnac can of course be substituted by any other kind of brandy like for example cognac. The tastes will shift a bit but the direction will stay the same.

1. Armagnac and Bushmills Rum cask

These two are actually not too far apart as the Bushmills is a quite fruity malt.

Nose: Strong and fruity. Grapes, pears ans apricots

Palate: This is a fruit bomb. Grapes and apricots abound, rather sweet.

Finish: long and sweet

Overall: This works, but only if you like sweet stuff. It’s not whisky and it’s not armagnac, but it is a pleasant experience.

2. Armagnac and Ardbeg Ten

And now for something bolder:

Nose: Fruity peat, not very much to find.

Palate: Quite nocticeable peat, seems a bit less smoky but more medicinal than in pure Ardbeg. A slight fruitiness acompanies the peat but stays in the background. Quite sweet as well.

Finish: Long and smoky

Overall: I like this, believe it or not. The peat is so dominant that even adding some more Armagnac does not seem to harm it. It adds a kind of lingering fruitiness to already somewhat sweet Ardbeg.

Conclusion

Whisky and brandy seem to go together quite well, perhaps because both are cask matured. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that adding brandy improves whisky. But the results are far from destroying it. It adds quite some sweetness, so perhaps lowering the amount of brandy would give even better results (and of course using a higher class brandy as well). Especially in the case of the Ardbeg I doubt that in a blind tasting anybody would notice it as a mix. I think there just would be speculations about an odd finish.

This was just a rather spontanous experiment with bottles I happened to have on my shelf. I am convinced that if you carefully select the whiskies and brandies, you could create a very nice drink.

Go on to part 2…

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