House blends – booze purists avert your eyes now

I get sent a lot of miniature samples of whisky. This is much better than being sent a whole bottle because I hate to see waste so I end up drinking more. But what to do with all those miniatures once I’ve tasted them and logged them on my tasting database (I really do have a tasting database.) Well I could do as one whisky blogger does which is to sell off some of his collection in sample form (though his were paid for no freebies.) It’s probably not a bad idea when it comes to some of ridiculously-priced whisky that Diageo sometimes release but instead, Scotch purists look away now, I put them in my house blend. It started as the remnants of a bottle of Black Grouse, with some Cutty Sark and Tullamore Dew mixed in but it now contains minute quantities of some extremely swanky whiskies. It’s like a home-grown version of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Some weeks it tastes extremely good, others a bit weird, but it’s always interesting and makes a distinctive base for cocktails and the like.

I thought I was the only  heretic but I had lunch with a well-known whisky writer recently, lets call him Ian, and he confided that he has three glass demijohns in his cellar, one for whisky samples, one for very peaty whiskey samples so as not to upset the house blend and one for gin. I have a house gin too but the most successful is my house brandy. It’s based on a Brandy de Jerez but recently I’ve added tiny amounts of cognac to it. That improved it no end making it lighter, fruitier and accentuating that oloroso sherry finish.

My mania for blending may be getting out of hand, last week I mixed some of my mother’s marmalade with some of my wife’s. It wasn’t a great success.



About Henry

I’m a drinks writer. My day job is features editor at the Master of Malt blog. I also contribute to BBC Good Food, the Spectator and others. You can read some of my work here. I’ve done a bit of radio, given some talks and written a couple of books (Empire of Booze, The Home Bar and the forthcoming Cocktail Dictionary).
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6 Responses to House blends – booze purists avert your eyes now

  1. Hey Henry!

    Awesome that you mentioned my blog. I do like to correct a tiny thing though. I don’t sell off anything that I get sent for free. The samples available on my blog are all bottles I’ve bought myself.

    It doesn’t change much, but interestingly, I also started my own home-blend with scraps from samples last week.

    Cheers, keep up the good work and I can’t wait for Empire of Booze to come out!


  2. Jyrgenn says:

    A few years ago, at a former workplace, a new colleague noticed my interest and introduced me to a circle of real, serious whisky enthusiasts. One of them, nicknamed Pitti, poured the last remains of each bottle he drank into a separate bottle, the legendary “Pitti-bottle”. The resulting blend, which I was allowed to taste a few times, was excellent.

    Following that example, I now have a similar bottle at home, and from time to time I delight myself tasting from that blend. Having peaty and non-peaty whisky in separate bottles is a good idea, and I think I shall do that, too.

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