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Issue 130 - Syncopated Harmony

Whisky Magazine Issue 130
September 2015


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Syncopated Harmony

A look at foods that employ the skill of blending and pairing them with blended whisky

There is something thrilling about a solo performance, be it the deep thud of a double bass resonating through the soles of your feet, or the crash of a cymbal and the boom of a drum; a solo is pure skill and showmanship. While I can appreciate the sonorous warmth of a bassoon solo, I also long for the balanced harmony of the symphony. In this tortured analogy if single malts are the solo, then at their best, blends can be the blinding thrilling crescendo of the full London Philharmonic playing Beethoven's Ninth symphony.

The blender's skill and art is not limited to whisky production. In the wine making, tobacco, olive oil, chocolate, tea and coffee industries each element in a blend brings its own flavours and characteristics. While these blended products are exulted for their creativity and balance, blended whisky is sadly often treated as inferior to its single origin counterparts. Blends are often disparaged as ‘accessible' or ‘gateway' whiskies, which carries with it the suggestion that they lack the complexity and excitement of single malts. When whiskies are blended well they teem with aroma and flavour. Spice is present, herbs sometimes too, and beneath that perhaps leather, caramel, tobacco, all finely strung together, held in syncopated harmony and balance. John Glaser, of Compass Box who are innovators in the field of blending opines, “If you make blended Scotch with the highest quality whiskies, aged in the highest quality oak, blended with care and skill,...

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