The challenge? Envision a world where whisky could taste genuinely different; where you could experience a surprising flavour sensation influenced by the intense sweetness of rye whiskey married with the depth and subtlety of a carefully crafted Scotch.
This is the test the ingenious blending team at Johnnie Walker, the world's number one best-selling Scotch Whisky brand, set themselves in crafting Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Bourbon Cask & Rye Finish. The limited edition new blend is the second and latest innovation in the Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch portfolio - a series of experimental Scotch Whiskies that challenge convention and lift the lid on the skill and never-ending pursuit of flavour that has driven the small team of expert blenders at Johnnie Walker for over 200 years.
Inspired by the time master blender Dr Jim Beveridge, whose personal journey making whisky began over 40 years ago, spent blending bourbons and ryes in Kentucky in the 1990s, Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Bourbon Cask & Rye Finish pushes the boundaries of blending like never before.
It took more than 50 experiments exploring over 200 whisky samples to hit upon the blend - Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Bourbon Cask & Rye Finish - which features whiskies from just five distilleries including Dufftown and the now closed Port Dundas. The final blend, which is rich and warming with an intense honeyed sweetness, is aged in first-fill bourbon casks and finished for up to six months in former rye casks. It is available only in a small number of selected markets, including Travel Retail.
The magic, creativity and experimentation brought to life in the whisky making process, is what drives the blending team at Johnnie Walker to experiment with new and surprising taste experiences, resulting in this latest addition to the Johnnie Walker Blenders'Batch series. The on-going flavour experiments that Beveridge and his team study at the brand's home in Scotland are a crucial part of their work, focussing on developing and understanding alternative flavours including wine, coffee and chocolate.
"Experimentation is the key to innovation," says Dr Beveridge. "It's something that has been at the heart of Johnnie Walker from the very beginning and which has enabled us to consistently create perfect whiskies like Johnnie Walker Red Label and Johnnie Walker Black Label for generations.
"What we're doing today is what we've done for almost 200 years, experimenting with flavours and flavour influences to make sure that the whisky we make every day is the very best it can be. Right now, interest in whisky is higher than it's ever been and it's the right time to let people try some of the innovative - sometimes seemingly weird - things we're experimenting with. We think people will love these whiskies and more than that, they'll love knowing the story of how they came about."
Find out more about the Johnnie Walker range and its new innovation here.