XLent news for blended whisky fans!
BIG (or XL if you will) news for fans of blended whiskies - we have an incredible new offering to add to our repertoire.
The XL Blend combines whiskies of no less than 40 years of age taking its inspiration from the legendary whiskies produced in the 1960s and 1970s, and the roman numerals both indicate its age and its rich and intense flavours.
We could tell you about it ourselves, or we could let Sam Simmons, Head of Whisky for Atom Brands fill you in…
The XL Blend is brand new – how did this one come about?
We are blessed with a healthy inventory of ancient malts and grains, and in this case it all just fell into place. It started when we got our hands on two parcels of absolutely stunning 44 year old grain whisky from two distilleries. My colleague Toby then secured a blended malt from 1973 that, to our noses, had all the brightness body to round off the creamy old grains and was just begging to be married. We tested this and were blown away. We then topped it off with a well known and loved 1975 Speyside single malt from a sherry hogshead and voila!
What do you love about this whisky?
I am a big blended Scotch whisky fan and have heard one thing repeated many times that creating this blend made me question and that is with regards to "malt content", how much malt whisky is in a blend, and that correlation to quality. In this case, it ended up being 65% malt, but I have to say that when working on this and other blends, I learned an important lesson about how to balance grain and malt, leaving room for illumination. The ingredients in a blend must complement and enhance on another, and without grain in high proportions the conversation can get very crowded. Grain is not neutral, it is the orchestrated lighting of the photoshoot that makes the models look just right. And you have to leave room, cracks even. It's how the light gets in, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen.
Any hints as to where the whiskies came from/what casks were used for the XL Blend?
Already gave that away! The Scotch Whisky Association regulations allow only one number referring to age to be present on a bottle and my colleague Adam had a great solution to this suggesting the use of "XL". Although the XL is Roman numeral “40”, it works to indicate the minimum age of the whiskies within but hopefully also indicates that they are all EXTRA LARGE, ie. over 40 years of age.
The label features the phrase “XL-ent”, not once but twice. Honestly, how does that make you feel?
Embarrassed and proud in equal measure.