Talking Blended Excellence with… Dean Jode

Talking Blended Excellence with… Dean Jode

We sat down with Dean Jode, member of the whisky creations team at Murray McDavid, to talk about the increasingly popular category of premium blends

News | 27 Oct 2021 | By Christopher Coates

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Hailing from Cheltenham, Dean Jode worked as a photographer and in bars before catching the whisky bug at a Dalmore tasting. After working for independent bottler Murray McDavid as a brand ambassador, he joined its whisky creation team in 2016.

Why did you decide to launch a range of premium blends?
Our whisky creations team believe that premium blends offer Scotch whisky aficionados unique flavours and styles. Specially selecting differing spirit styles to develop together in cask for many years produces exceptionally unusual and interesting whiskies that often provide more than a single malt can.

How do you approach the creation of a premium blend?
There are many ways we create our premium blends. We may blend older whiskies with younger — our aptly named ‘Young & Old’ is a fine example of that — or youthful, powerfully peated single malts with much, much older fruity and oily single grains.

When creating whiskies for Murray McDavid, we are always thinking, ‘What style of cask will elevate the drinking experience of this whisky?’. Using first fill casks when producing Scotch whisky adds incredible aroma and flavour, … but it also increases our production costs. We believe investing in the blended categories will spark more interest from the curious whisky lover.

Are these blends for sipping neat, mixing, or both?
Within our Crafted Blend and The Vatting series, we create whiskies of many different styles and ages. There are whiskies designed to be enjoyed in their pure form, but I strongly feel that people should experiment with our younger, more vibrant styles to explore their wonderful flavours and what may compliment them. Our ‘Half ‘N’ Half, matured in amber ale casks from Moor brewery, has been specifically created to enjoy alongside a cold, refreshing beer!

During this ‘age of single malt’, do you think die-hard whisky fans are coming back around to the idea of blends as premium and desirable products?
I think we’re at a time where curiosity is the new cool. When I first started with Murray McDavid 7 years ago, the amount of people who would instantly dismiss blended whiskies of any kind was staggering. Today, I think those barriers have been broken to some degree; I think people are more concerned about the flavours in the glass.

What makes your blends special or unique?
We make all of our blends at our whisky maturation warehouses at Coleburn and Royal Brackla, where we create unique combinations of malts and unusual ratios of grain, … all finished in first fill casks. We’re creating very exciting small parcels of stock, which I’m excited to share with whisky lovers when the right time comes.

Read Christopher's article on six of the best blended whiskies of 2021 here. We're talking to each of the palates behind these whiskies — read more 'Talking Blended Excellence with...' features as they come out here.
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