It’s all about blending! The history of Blended Scotch Whiskies and why an Irish excise officer plays an important role

Blending is a common technique in today’s beverage industry. Take wines, juices, sherries, teas or rums for instance with their ageing or production systems based on blending. But why? There are a couple of reasons. First of all, to receive a consistent final product, year after year. But even more important: with blending two or more ingredients or liquids the result can be better than the sum of all individual ingredients. In other terms 1 + 1 = 3 or more. (This is also one of the  NOVELTEAM’s core values by the way). Blending improves taste, texture, aroma and flavour. By blending you create a new product that pleases a bigger audience or facilitates the consumption. It is about new possibilities, new combinations of flavours, new ways of sharing and enjoying. For balance, richness and complexity.


Let us have a closer look at the history of blending. And let us take Blended Whiskies as an example. The foundation for the production of Blended Whisky was laid in 1831, when Aeneas Coffey, Irishman and former customs and excise officer, invented the Coffey Still. This innovation made distillation more efficient and faster as it allowed a continuous process to distill alcohol. However, Irish Distilleries didn’t trust his Coffey Stills and he went to Scotland – especially the Lowlands - where his stills where very much appreciated. As a result, a higher quantity of especially grain whiskies was able to be produced.


Next important step within the history of Blended whiskies was taken by Andrew Usher. Back in the days, distilleries usually sold their whiskies through traders (often based in Edinburgh). One of these was Mr. Usher. In the 1860’s, he started mixing single malt whiskies from the Highlands, which at the time were strong flavoured and fairly raw with grain whiskies from the Lowlands to create a more accessible whisky pleasing a wider audience. The concept of Blended Whisky was born.


Nowadays, 90% of the Scotch Whiskies sold are Blended Whiskies. They are comprised of several grain and malt whiskies. That also accounts for the Scotch Whisky we chose to blend for our “The Tale of Oolong”. This Highland Whisky consists of 85% grain whisky & 15% malt whisky made from malted barley and aged for a min. of 3 years in American oak barrels with a mix of first fill, refill and rechar barrels.


The process of blending always starts with the search for the right ingredients. In case of “The Tale of Oolong” we knew that we wanted to create our next “Tale” based on this Chinese half oxidised tea when starting the project. Knowing that Oolong tea – and especially the one we had selected – often shows peach and mango notes Vincent and Lukas explored different regions and countries searching for the perfect whisk(e)y to create the perfect Oolong-whisky blend. And after numerous iterations of recipes and hand-selected casks over more than 6 months they finally found “our” Highland Whisky. Sweet and fruity in nose and on palate with delicate barley and vanilla undertones. The perfect fit to the selected Oolong tea.


In this sense blending is the foundation of all Ready-to-Enjoy drinks. Different, new, versatile and convenient to serve. We change the way of consuming both – the spirit and the tea to be enjoyed cold over ice, gently warmed or as a cocktail ingredient. We are proud to say that blending is one of NOVELTEA's core strengths. And finally, by blending two cultures we are delivering a magical new drinking experience.