Okay, okay, we admit it: when we first heard about Whisky Blender, the site that allows you to build-your-own whisky and then have it shipped directly to you, we got a little giddy. In our defense, though– when two of your favorite things in the entire world are bespoke and booze, it’s pretty hard to resist. We caught up with the brains behind Whisky Blender to ask them a little more about their vision.
RYE & RIVET: Blending has a reputation as a mysterious, almost magical art that’s only understood by a handful of people. Where did the idea come from to de-mystify it a bit, and let regular folks give it a try?
DREW NICOLSON & ANDY DAVIDSON: We love whisky and admire the incredible job that master blenders do. To do what they do requires a great deal of knowledge and appreciation of the entire whisky making process, not to mention the years and years of experience that go into it. We don’t offer a blending experience that is anywhere near as involved as a real one–it’s just a bit of fun, really. The fact is, without the knowledge and experience which master blenders possess it’s just an approximation… but that shouldn’t stop you having your own blend anyway. Blending is an art and it always will be. So much of the whisky-making process is fascinating to us and we created Whisky Blender as a gateway for people to “get into” whisky drinking, and perhaps in time they will discover more about it and admire it as we do. Our site is not designed for whisky drinkers or anaroks, but rather we created it in an attempt to attract people who don’t normally drink whisky… sort of as a recruitment into whisky. So far it seems to be working.
R&R: For you, is there an element of whisky itself that is entwined with hands-on culture? Why is one such a good fit for the other?
DN & AD: As much as whisky is depicted as a sophisticated, regal, archaic and upperclass drink, at the same time it’s also a rugged, earthy, social and everyday-joe drink. We think whisky is the perfect drink for almost every occasion from weddings to funerals, nights in to nights out, birthdays, anniversaries, New Year, etc… it’s flexible. This diversity gives us a great avenue for personalization. Everyone knows what they like… and whisky can be blended to fit a certain palate. PERFECT!
R&R: What are the three quick things that every person should know before they make their first blend on WhiskyBlender?
DN & AD: Firstly, forget what you know about whisky (or think you know)… and if you don’t think you know anything, then don’t feel like you have to. Simply trust your instincts, and don’t overthink it. If there’s something that doesn’t appeal to you, lay off it or simply don’t use it at all. If there’s one thing that really sounds up your alley, then fire it in. It’s that simple. Don’t feel like you need to use every option. Don’t think, “But how do I know it’ll taste good?” You don’t know how anything will taste beforehand, but if you’re afraid of a little adventure then Whisky Blender is REALLY not for you. We’ve only been running three months now but we’ve had nothing but great feedback from all our wee blenders out there.
R&R: Whisky Blender is, by necessity, all about small-run production. How does that affect the way you think about the company as a whole?
DN & AD: We created it as a business that we would buy from. The whole time in development we asked ourselves constantly, “Is this something I would buy?” If the answer was “yes”, we proceeded. This means that we can have a good level of confidence in the product, and so long as we’re not the only people in the world who would want something like this we’ll be just fine. And although it wasn’t our intention to supply business (hotels, bars, clubs, etc…), we have started to get a lot of inquiries from businesses which would normally be buying product by the palette who are interested in including their own blend on the shelf. This is a nice surprise and there’s already a bar in Glasgow (The Bon Accord) who sells their own dram they made on Whisky Blender.
R&R: What’s the best name for a whisky you’ve seen so far?
DN: My personal favorite is “STAPLEGUN DONKEYPUNCH”! I think that’s hilarious! We’re actually running a competition where every month we pick ten of our favorites, and let people vote for the best. The winner by the end of the month gets a free bottle of whisky blended by a secret guest “blender”.
Thanks again to the guys from Whisky Blender for talking to us. For more about Whisky Blender, and to start blending up a dram of your own, click here.