TBWC World Whisky Blend 41.6% – Summery treat neat or in a cocktail!

In the world of whisky, what do Scotland, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, Taiwan, India, Italy, Germany (Bavaria), France, Japan, and Finland have in common? A fabulous new World Whisky Blend from That Boutique-y Whisky Co (TBWC)!

In April 2023, our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai got together to explore a collection from TBWC. I was hosting, and as it was our first evening entertaining in our new Mumbai flat, I wanted to kick things off with a “welcome” drink – something refreshing, and summery – a whisky cocktail to both enjoy and calibrate our palate for the tastings to come!

There is a reason an “Old Fashioned” remains a familiar standard in the world of whisky cocktails. In our case, we played around with the regular recipe (maple syrup instead of simple syrup, adding a dash of fresh orange juice) until we got something that suited the blend and our mood.

World Whisky Blend Batch 1, 41.6%

  • Colour: Light gold
  • Nose: Citrus at first, then a lovely nutty element, back to freshly squeezed orange, sweet, mild and friendly, inviting and gentle, vanilla, apricots, peaches, and cream
  • Palate: Super smooth and nutty
  • Finish: Easy, sweet, and long with pink peppercorns adding a nice addition to the peaches, a hint of bitterness at the end gives it a wee bit of character
This was such an enjoyable blend. A versatile dram to be had as you want. Whilst it was a bit on the milder side, it was so incredibly balanced with harmonious elements, that it could be forgiven for not having more “oomph”.
So what was the collective Whisky Ladies verdict? We loved this one! It is exactly what you want in a summery blend – most enjoyable to sip neat, equally fabulous in a sprightly cocktail. In other words – simply perfect for our Mumbai climate and mood that evening.

Here’s what the folks at TBWC have to say:

Snap up our first non-limited edition bottling, that can be enjoyed all year round!

World Whisky Blend has been designed with the world in mind. A harmonious blend of whiskies from across the breadth of planet earth, to achieve a truly global flavour.

While beautiful neat, this blend has been designed to be mixed seven different ways, to celebrate the way the WORLD really drinks whisky.

Double bonus, this blend is quite affordable – the only challenge is being in a part of the world where you can buy TBWC whiskies! In my case, I bought it online in Germany from Whic.de for Eur 29 (700ml, larger than the usual TBWC bottles). So… if you can, it is well worth keeping on hand for a nice summery everyday dram!

Here’s what other That Boutique-y Whisky Co bottles we tried together with the World Whisky Blend:

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West Cork Distiller’s Black Cask Irish Whiskey 40%

We were about to head out to an evening of surprises – a four-course meal in pitch blackness, learning how to navigate and rely on other senses. Before walking over to the restaurant, we decided we should crack open a small ‘mini’ whisky as a pre-appetizer. We had quite an array to choose from, however, we selected an Irish blend that neither of us had tried.

So who are these folks at West Cork? Started by three friends in 2003, they produce whiskey, gin, and vodka. Obviously… I had a wee mini whiskey! What did we think?

Black Cask Irish Whiskey 40%

  • Nose – Light, fruity and amiable, green orchard fruits like pear and granny smith apples, a touch of honey, spirited, camomile tea, a hint of vanilla
  • Palate – Light spice, malty and mineral, a bit bitter
  • Finish – Limited

There was no doubt this was a fairly young, raw whisky, yet equally pleasant and a good way to begin our evening! So perfect for our purpose.

What do the folks at West Cork have to say about their Black Cask expression?

A fine blend of grain (66%) and malt (34%) whiskey aged in first fill bourbon casks for three years, and polish matured for a further year in heavily charred bourbon casks. The result is a beautifully balanced whiskey with a vanilla and lingering sweetness.

If you are curious about more Irish whiskies, I have a whole section dedicated to Ireland, including 10 evenings focused just on exploring drams from the Emerald Isles!

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London Whisky Show – TBWC Brilliant Blends

After the stunning That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s 10th anniversary 45-year Blended Grain sampled in Paris, I didn’t know what to expect with their other older blends on offer at the London Whisky Show. However, we couldn’t pass up trying both:

  • Cutler & Stubbs 42-year Blend (2022) Batch 1, 44.1% (TBWC) Bottle 28 out of 490, retails for approx £225
  • St. Thomas 32-year Blend (2022) Batch 1, 40.1% (TBWC) 398 bottles, retails for approx £105

Starting 1st with the Cutler & Stubbs 42 year Blend Batch 1, 44.1%, our quick sniff and swish left the following impression:

  • Nose – Caramel, rich, loads of stewed fruits, vanilla and cream
  • Palate – Gorgeous all over, dessert in a glass, balanced
  • Finish – Beautiful and smooth

Though not the same, it reminded me a bit of the Hedges & Butler Royal 21-year we sampled earlier in the year – a blend from the 1970s/early 1980s. It had a classic style, which was mirrored by the artwork – with the TBWC humor – more in keeping with something from 50+ years ago.

We then moved on to St. Thomas 32-year Blend which revealed some interesting elements:

  • Nose – Aniseed, wood chased by caramel cream
  • Palate – Caraway and something else combined with malty pudding
  • Finish – Subtle and soft, melted fudge

This one goes into the category of needing more time to sit back and relax, while it tells its story. I was quite sure while sipping it, that my quick scribbles from our brief tasting reflected only a portion of what this blend brings.

Both whiskies were a cheeky nod to days gone by… when blends were king and single malts secondary. And a strong reminder to pay attention to older blends!

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Blends of yore – Hedges + Butler 21 year 43%

Without a doubt, this blend made our evening “remarkable“! It also prompted our meeting as I had brought it back from Germany where Krishna Nakula – India’s Malt Maniac – had bought it at an auction nearly two years earlier. As he just so happened to be in Mumbai for an event, we naturally had to catch up for a dram or two! Very generously, he chose to open this particular piece of history… Lucky us!

So what did we think?

Hedges & Butler Royal Scotch Whisky 21 year (1950/60s – 1970/80s) 43%

  • Nose – Rich and robust, think German cherry liqueur or a single rum, dark fruits – particularly plums, earthy and bursting with character, buttery milk chocolate with a heavy fruit liqueur
  • Palate – It has a velvety silky smoothness, well rounded and balanced, waxy with some mineral and tobacco, luscious juicy fruits and berries, a hint of spice and wood at the back, chased by bitters
  • Finish – Long and lingering with a hint of sweet spices

Superb and simply delicious! This blend provided clear evidence that they don’t make them like they used to! Very different – incredibly complex, rich, rewarding… a big full whisky. The nose and palate are outstanding… and very memorable. Lucky, lucky us to have an opportunity to try something like this!

It is hard to find too much in the way of exact details however based on the label and auctions, it is likely from the 1960s / bottled in the 1980s. The auction price was around EUR 88 however with taxes and shipping, came to EUR 105. I thought it quite reasonable, however Krishna shared such bottles earlier were selling for significantly less. As more and more people are now discovering that these mere ‘blends’ are in fact hidden treasures from a time when the BEST malt went into a blend, the price is also rising.

Hedges & Butler (aka H&B) is a brand of blends part of the Ian McLeod group. They trace their history as a wine and spirits producer back to 1667, relocating in 1819 to Regent Street, supplying the coronation banquet of King George IV with wine, port, and champagne. Their relationship with whisky began in the 1830s with blended Scotch whiskies – gaining their 1st of several “Royal Warrants” by King George IV, followed by Queen Victoria, then eleven different Monarch’s.

Fast forward to the 1960s, H&B was acquired by The Bass Charrington Group, then from 1998 the brand name has been owned by Ian Macleod Distillers.

Today you can still find H&B with a no age statement and 12-year version.

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Remarkable Random Range of Whiskies

What does a Scottish blend from the 1950 / 60s made for a Hamburg distributor and a German malt that barely qualifies as whisky have in common? Or what does a peaty coastal single malt bottled by an Indian distillery have to do with a sophisticated complex Island dram from a much-coveted Indie bottler? And how about the price range from an affordable entry-level Island OB in GBP 20s vs another over 150?! Or sourced from an auction some 40 years after bottling vs direct from bottler within hours of going on sale, to Le Clos Dubai duty-free or available exclusively in Bangalore only… Frankly speaking, they have practically nothing in common beyond a random sweaty evening in Mumbai where they just so happened to be tasted together!

A Remarkable (Random) Range

What a remarkable – if random! – range for a brilliant evening… which was revisited another night in Mumbai with more malt experts!

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Blind tasting The Famous Grouse 40%

Nothing like tasting blind to set aside preconceived notions… particularly when it comes to well-known blends…

A version of this blend has been around since 1896 with the “Famous Grouse” name remaining consistent since 1905. Considered a top-selling whisky brand in the UK, I have to confess that I don’t recall ever having tried The Famous Grouse before.

What did we think?

Famous Grouse 40% 

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Raisins, sherry influence, oily and heavy, overripe fruits, wet mop and phenol, island influence, bit of brine, fermented bread, light iodine, wet leaves,
  • Palate – Smooth on the palate, gentle, watery softness, honey-sweet, nice mouthfeel, reminded a bit of mead
  • Finish – Soft white pepper, long, sherry element with juicy whisky soaked raisins

Nothing hugely distinctive or complex, but there were still some nice elements. However they were a bit curious – on the one hand, there was a briney Island style and on the other hand, a more traditional sherry dram.

We speculated this may be Scottish but beyond that? We had no clue!

Turns out this was the real “googly” in the mix for the evening. The other three were deliberately Scottish ‘adjacent’ whereas just for kicks, our whisky host decided to bring into our evening something we would not have expected!

With the reveal?

It all made sense – why there was a duality of character, why it came across as Scottish but not distinctively this or that. The Famous Grouse is known to use both Highland Park and Macallan – which certainly helped explain what we found!

As for the official notes?

  • Appearance: Full golden, clear and bright
  • Aromas: Candied fruits, buttery shortbread, citrus peel
  • Taste: Dried fruit, soft spices (cinnamon/ginger), hint of oak
  • Finish: Smooth, well balanced

Interesting to try and why I enjoy blind tastings! Here is what else we tried that evening:

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Compass Box Enlightenment 46%

It has been awhile since I’ve sat down with a Compass Box blend… more than two years! And this opportunity came completely unexpectedly.

It was an August evening in Mumbai where a few of us from our original tasting group re-united for a special evening. I’d intended to simply share what I had recently opened during that trip. However to my very pleasant surprise, one of our lovely tasting companions came with three unique bottles for us to experience – what fun!

What did we think?

Compass Box Enlightenment 46%

  • Nose – A bit shy at 1st then blooms, has blown candles, waxy, honey, tobacco leaf, green peppercorn, black vanilla pod, lemon, fragrant – lightly floral and fruity
  • Palate – Good an spicy, lots of character, powerful, waxy and oily… the spice tamed… and softened into fruitiness – now more berry than apple or citrus, underneath it more of that delicate floral almost herbal quality
  • Finish – Fruity honey

We tasted it blind and began speculating about the cask – could it be French oak 1st fill? American? And where was the spice coming from? Was it a single malt or something else? Ah.. we were definitely having more questions than answers until the reveal!

And what a reveal – you have to appreciate Compass Box commitment to transparency – pushing the boundaries of what is permitted.

I brought a couple samples back with me to Germany, forwarded on to Paris to revisit some evening – hopefully in the not to distant future.

Here is what John Glaser has to say about Enlightenment:

Inspired by the writers, philosophers and scientists of the Age of Enlightenment it sets out to encourage the industry to consider the absurdity of a system that prevents producers from telling consumers exactly what has gone into the whiskies they are drinking.

And of course the whisky itself is something rather special. A blend of fruity, fragrant Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, it is bursting with aromas of fresh orchard fruit, flavours of vanilla, soft spice and pear and an alluring apple peel waxiness on the finish. An uplifting, enlightening whisky with which to ponder the world of Scotch not only as it is but also as it could be.

What’s the recipe?

  • 48.2% Clynelish 1st fill American standard barrel – Bright apple, waxiness
  • 36.7% Glentauchers 1st fill American standard barrel – Fruity, herbal
  • 10.8% Balblair 1st fill American standard barrel – Perfumed, bright
  • 4.3% Mortlach rejuvenated American standard barrel – Muscular, weighty

And the official tasting notes?

Fresh, vibrant and uplifting with a mouthfeel that is moreish and mouth-watering. On the nose you will find bright apple and pear, vanilla cream and light violet; on the palate soft spice, gentle citric notes and more of that uplifting orchard fruit character.

Enlightenment is a limited edition blend bottled in April 2016 with 5,922 bottles. As for the price? Hard to say as it isn’t so readily available now.

What else did we try that evening?

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Back to blends – James Eadie’s Trade Mark ‘X’ 45.6%

For the most part, our whisky wanderings are firmly in the single malt category… with a few exceptions. This James Eadie that made an appearance in Aug 2021 was one such occurrence.

It was hunted down by a fellow whisky explorer who after we tasted shared the story of Rupert Patrick – the current owner – who found records of his great-great-grandfather’s blend, sampled some surviving bottles (turns out they were from the 1940s!) and then worked to reconstruct with a whisky expert (Norman Mathison).

What more do we know about James Eadie? For this particular “X” edition, their website shares:

In recreating Trade Mark ‘X’, only whiskies form distilleries which he personally bought from have been included in this blend – including some which have long ceased production.

As he specified, these whiskies were matured in either American oak or sherry wood.

Finally, we invited veteran Master Blender Norman Mathison to use his four decades’ worth of expertise to bring Mr. Eadie’s whisky back to life.

The result is an elegant, peaty dram, which offers a rare glimpse into the art of blending from the first Golden Age of Scotch whisky.

So that was the promise, what about our experience with the liquid?

James Eadie 2017 45.6%

  • Nose – Oh my! Initially quite sharp, lemon varnish, the fruity, cereals, bourbon sour, some yoghurt then… it started to shift dramatically to reveal hints of savoury meats, yet throughout retaining a “light” style.
  • Palate – Flavourful, fruity, silky sweet with spice at the back, lots of white peppercorns and fresh capsicum, hay, buttered toast
  • Finish – Hmm… is that cinnamon? With a dash of ginger?

We tasted this blind and initially thought it may have quite a high alcohol strength… however as it settled in the glass though perhaps not after all as it went from punchy sharp to quite light.

We didn’t initially think of adding water but thought, why not?

What a discovery! It became quite lively with a lovely peat revealed. While it made the body lighter, it gave more character and style. Well worth trying that way.

With the reveal we were all surprised – while we couldn’t guess the distillery we didn’t catch on to it being a blend either. Interesting. Our whisky “host” shared the cost – which I later looked up as being EUR 45.

I kept aside two small samples – one to take back and keep in Nurnberg and another to forward on to Paris. In a few months some additional impressions may join our original thoughts. I’m looking forward as this definitely was one I’d like to revisit!

What else did we try that evening?

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Vita Dulcis 15 – Japan’s Kaikyo

Last year, Germany’s spirits importer Schlumberger brought two whiskies from Akashi-Tai’s Kaikyo Distillery – including this “Hatozaki Whisky,” named after a lighthouse nearby that dates back to 1657.

Naturally curious, I was happy to see it part of my Vita Dulcis 2020 Advent Calendar.

Japan – Kaikyo Distillery Hatozaki Blended Whisky 40%

  • Colour – So pale, it almost looks like water
  • Nose – It started off with soft brie or camembert, citrus spice… as it opened up, it became fruitier – particularly white nectarines and the cereals became more prominent
  • Palate – Apple juice that morphed into apple sauce with a bit of cinnamon and cheese, bit of honey
  • Finish – Light

I kept thinking of a platter full of different kinds of cheese, apples, figs, a scattering of nuts… it also reminded me of Akashi’s Red, perhaps even more so the White Oak.

What more do we know?

Based on the ABV, it seems clear the ‘Finest Japanese’ expression (not small batch) Hatozaki made its way to Germany.

From this interview with the owner Kimio Yonezawa, it is a blend of malt and grain, whiskies distilled in Japan and outside. In terms of casks, they use sherry, bourbon and Mizunara oak…. even XO plum Umeshu!

As for official tasting notes, here is what I could find:

Hatozaki Finest Japanese Whisky is a premium blend of whiskies, aged up to 12 years in barrel with a minimum malt whisky content of 40%. Light in style with a rich backbone of malt whisky character. Cereal notes and a light sweetness allow for the whisky to be used in both highball and straight pours.

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Vita Dulcis 13 – Canada’s J.P. Wiser’s 18 year 40%

A nice surprise in my international Advent Calendar was a chance to ‘virtually’ take a trip to Canada shortly before Xmas!

As I had some catching up to do, I speed tasted a few sips of four drams… one after the other… with this one the last. Good thing as it was a clear departure and one that needed time to settle into…

Here is what I found!

Canada – JP Wiser’s 18 year Blended Whisky 40%

  • Nose – Initial hit was acidic, almost varnish or glue, but then it immediately mellowed, became sweeter, light tart fruits like a crisp apple, pine sol… and after the 1st sip reminded me of dried sour plums
  • Palate – Smooth, rounded…. tamarind… dried sour plum – a bit tart, a bit salty, a bit sweet and overall tangy
  • Finish – Long finish… which continued with the dried sour plum theme

Sometimes you come across a whisky that has a single predominant quality. Or at least once you catch that dimension, all senses become fixated on it. In the case of this J.P. Wiser’s 18 year, for me it was dried sour plums – Li hing mui (旅行梅) – specifically the red ones. This quality activated my taste buds with its combination of sour, salt and sweet. It also struck me that it might make an interesting addition to a cocktail.

While Canadian, this one reminded me of Asia. During my tasting, I was on a video chat with a friend in Canada and she immediately knew exactly what I meant.  She shared one of their favourite summer drinks is lemonade over ice with sour plums – the best part is how the sour plums help cut the sweet, add another element and then after soaking up the lemonade are delicious to eat.

Bottom line…. the more I sipped, the more I enjoyed this one… It was distinctive, interesting and a good shift in character after some less than stellar whiskies.

Distillery official tasting notes? I couldn’t really find… this is all they have to say:

Aged to perfection over 18 long years and blended with exacting care to deliver a premium whisky with the smoothest of finishes. This multiple award-winning spirit is something you’ll want to have on hand to serve and enjoy on special occasions.

Taste profile: Autumn florals, green apple, fresh pine, caramel, spice, oak 

Funny thing is… as I sat down to write up my notes, I discovered the Bombay Malt & Cigar lads and I had tried this whisky a few years ago during a special Canadian focused evening. When I read my old tasting notes, I could see the similarities but after fixating on sour plums, it was like a broken record… all I could ‘hear’ (taste/smell) was that!

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