When the chips are down

Meet a friend of mine: Nicola (her real name). To be honest, she was really more of an acquaintance, a long time ago, and I guess today, with the benefit of hindsight, she might be described as a first-generation ladette.

Nicola enjoyed a few Friday night beers; sometimes those Friday night beers became a few too many. One Saturday morning, Nicola woke up, slightly hungover to find blood all over her pillow. Not sure as to the cause, she made her way to the bathroom where she stole a glance of herself in the mirror. And screamed. The entire length of her nose, from bridge to tip, was covered in a huge scab.

Without any recollection of events from the night before, phone calls to pals ensued. “Was I in a fight?” she asked one. “Was there an accident?” she asked another. It wasn’t until the third phone call that all was revealed.

You see, Nicola and a friend had decided after their evening of beer-swilling to head to the local chippy on the way home. Nothing unusual there. However, on this occasion, Nicola’s attempts at multitasking failed miserably. Simultaneously staggering home whilst eating curry sauce embellished chips all proved to be a bit too much for her and several of the slippery wee devils found themselves on the floor. On each occasion that she bent over to pick them up (yes, she was that kind of person), the inebriation took an even greater hold. While she rested her forehead momentarily on the pavement, albeit for just a second to regain her balance, Nicola’s nose gently dragged along the concrete.

Had it happened just the once, the effect on Nicola’s nose would have been minimal. Perhaps just the merest of blemishes. If Nicola had shown some restraint and only bent down to pick up one chip, let’s say, every other Friday night, those blemishes would generally have gone unnoticed by everyone bar the closest of acquaintances. But several times during the short stagger home? It’s those small, incremental grazes over such a short space of time which accumulated into what became an extremely noticeable, huge, fuck-off scab.

Sometimes, these days, when I take a sip of some of the old blends I have bottles of, I’m reminded of Nicola’s nose. I think about those incremental differences over the years; the Scotch whisky industry’s equivalent to a dropped chip once a fortnight. And it’s only when you have that blend side by side with its counterpart of today that you realise just how great those differences really are; perhaps today’s blend would be far less Nicola’s nose and more Jennifer Grey’s.

Although sometimes barely recognisable as the same brand, this isn’t about me lambasting the current state of blends. People buy them, people drink them and people enjoy them. And the Scotch whisky industry needs them.

If I could remember who said it, I’d happily credit them. But I’m a 48-year-old perimenopausal woman so memory isn’t my forte at the moment. Anyway, this person (whoever they are) once compared today’s blenders to chefs. And imagine asking a chef to create the exact same dish again and again but with slightly different ingredients each time. Without underestimating the skill of the blender, this just isn’t possible.

The recipes have changed and, it could be argued, as Adam does quite rightly in his piece from a couple of years ago, so has the quality. But I always like to think that a blend is greater than the sum of its parts and so it is with this in mind that I present to you the Blend Of Doom.

A blend of approximately 40 single malts and grains, exact number and proportions unknown, this recipe hasn’t been passed down from generation to generation; it’s not loyal to any founder and there’s been absolutely no obsession with quality. In fact, I didn’t write anything down at all so please don’t ask me to remember what the components are. What I can tell you, though, is that it is essentially a blend of all the shitty drams I didn’t want to finish.

So, can a blend be greater than all of its shitty parts? Here goes!

Blend of Doom – review

On the nose: toffee apples and Mr Muscle; there’s a hint of smoke in the background; grilled pineapple comes to the fore after a while; some off milk notes linger throughout.

In the mouth: pine and lavender emerge instantly and thankfully dissipate equally as quickly; if I ever ate flowers soaked in vodka, this is probably what it would taste like; a mix of ginger and peppery heat – a drop or two of water calms this down; there’s a slight bitterness in to the finish which is short if a wee bit burny.


Well, I’ve probably paid a lot more for a lot worse but, essentially, I’ve answered my own question; this is absolutely awful. If you’re in the UK and fancy trying out the Blend of Doom for yourself, I’m happy to share it. Really; more than happy. I have six spare samples so feel free to get in touch – first come first served – but you have to promise not to sue me. Just send a name and address to justine@kaskwhisky.com and, Coronavirus situation-dependent, I’ll put a sample in the post for you. Worst case scenario, you could always use it as hand sanitiser.

Score: 2/10 (and one of those points is for the label)

CategoriesBlends Features
  1. James says:

    I too have a dumping blend! It also contains some botched maturation efforts since I have 2 1 litre casks – mine is also very… so so

  2. Alex says:

    Hi Justine,

    This has most definitely put me off starting an infinity bottle, that’s for sure! I realise also that it’s nice to just end a bottle – whether you enjoyed it or hated it, the finality of it is a good thing. If it was good, you’ve lost that within the mix, and if it was crap it’s going to be in there, haunting the bottle. I would have thought though that the last bits and bobs from a number of drams would at least result in something average? I think you’ve been unlucky there. But maybe these master blenders really do know what they’re doing too.


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