The Canadians and the Scottish have been doing it for years. And the Japanese, because they’re obsessed with the Scotch process, blend whiskeys, too. But American distilleries have only recently started touting their blends. The shift comes down to three big changes: 1) A new and deepening appreciation for American “straight” whiskey (which must be aged two years in charred oak barrels) by not only Americans, but the world. 2) A shortage of certain bottlings due to that appreciation. 3) Industry consolidation, which has provided distillers with new liquids with which to experiment.
(Also: It’s something to sell.)
It’s not a particularly complicated process. Drew Mayville, master blender at Sazerac, says creating the new, extremely limited, and outrageously good Mister Sam blend ($299) worked like this: He established a concept (blending certain percentages of American bourbon and Canadian rye whiskeys, say), then selected the whiskeys that possess the required flavor characteristics, and formulated a blend, funneling it into a whiskey bottle and allowing flavors to meld for at least 24 hours. He repeated the process until he was satisfied.
Jim Beam’s master blender Freddie Noe went through 32 different blends before he reached the formula for his Noe Simple Task blended whiskey, which includes Jim Beam’s bourbon with whiskeys from the aging portfolio of Alberta Distillers Limited owned by Jim Beam parent company