May 29, 2013

Blend Project...

The Cockpit, London
The idea of a series of reviews focused on a special topic on this blog is not something new. I had it for a long time but honestly couldn't come up with something exciting and/or interesting. During my last summer in London when I was frequently hopping from pub to pub a concept started to shape in my mind. After a tiring, long and stressful work day walking in a pub with friends and ordering a malty beautiful British ale with a blended Scotch next to it started to be our routine and I have to say I didn't have any difficulty to get used to it quickly. In the beginning as a whisky geek I was kind of grunting not to be able to find my favorite or interesting single malts on the shelves and was asking all kind of annoying questions to the bartenders but in time I began to see the other side of the situation. Going to pubs in UK early evenings and having a pint on the side walk is all about the social experience and not about tasting unique and/or rare brews or drams and geeking out about them. You don't choose your pub because what they have on tap or on their top shelf, you go there to meet people you want to have a drink with. You know that they will be there... The social side is what you care of. You select your pint from what they have on tap that day and order a Scotch with it. You just say Scotch... That's it... Simply beautiful.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, London
Now with the weather getting warmer here I am finding myself thinking more and more about the pubs of London and the blends I used to drink: Bell's, Famous Grouse, Teachers, Scottish Leader and some others. This made me also remember the blends which are not around anymore (at least in US) but I used to see in my father's small cabinet: Vat 69, White Horse, Black & White and Queen Anne... Since they were pretty hard to get in 70's Turkey he kept them usually for special occasions. They were pulled out when friends or family members were visiting and served in his favorite tumblers with two ice cubes. Blends are made to accompany social gatherings. They don't try to steal the scene, they don't need attention and you don't talk or think about what you are drinking. They just taste good... The whisky you sip in your glass is there simply to keep you good company and to keep the chit chat going with your buddies.
Dirty Duck, Stratford-Upon-Avon

So, starting in June throughout the summer I will taste as many entry level/bottom shelf blended Scotch expressions as I can put my hands on and make a series of them which I will call the Blend Project. I don't have a set time frame or any number of different whiskies in my mind. I just want to find out what my favorite blend(s) would be, discover some blends I didn't taste before and share them with friends. I also think that it is important to emphasize how important affordable everyday blends are for the industry, for the whisky culture and for whisky drinkers all over the world.

Please contact me via email or twitter (@bozkurtkarasu) or just leave a note below if you have a suggestion, comment, a special story/connection with a particular blend or if there are any blends you want me to taste. It will be tremendous fun...

The Ardview Inn, Islay