Hands-on Whiskey Blending to Create the Flaviar x WhistlePig Whiskey
New WhistlePig Homestock Whiskey Crowdsourced With Flaviar
Flaviar, the spirits subscription service and tasting club, teamed up with WhistlePig for a unique initiative as we all remained stuck in lockdown during the pandemic. The goal was the creation of the new Flaviar X WhistlePig Whiskey collaboration, WhistlePig Homestock Whiskey, with a tagline of, “Blended Together, While Apart.” As the name implies though, this would be no routine task, where you’d maybe half a dozen tasters gathered around a table to sniff and taste and adjust until perfection was achieved.
Instead, Flaviar sent out packages of different flavoring whiskeys — a rye whiskey (4 years, 43%), a wheat whiskey (5 years, 43%), and malted barley whiskey (5 years, 43%) — along with the gear needed to combine them together and accurately and efficiently take the appropriate measurements. The goal was to find the best crowdsourced blend of the three components, with the winning tipple then being made available for sale directly on Flaviar.com.
To get everyone started with their at-home blending, they even released a video to help guide participants and set them on the proper track:
After being armed with some knowledge, it was time for some tasting and blending.
To begin with, I figured the rye whiskey would be the base. Not only was it likely to be the most flavorful at the comparative ages of the samples, but what do you know, WhistlePig makes rye whiskey, and that’s probably the direction we’re heading in. From there, I knew I wanted a singular dominant flavor that could be tweaked and pruned and cleaned up with the extra components as needed.
Malted barley is a bit player in rye whiskey — the most famous mashbill being 95% rye, 5% malted barley. I didn’t want to go that extreme, but I also had the wheat to play with, and knew that would provide some sweetness to the blend while mellowing the overall profile. I didn’t, though, want to take out the zip and spice of the rye itself.
I began with a 70% rye, 20% wheat and 10% malted barley mashbill. I liked it, though thought it could use some more heft and spice from the rye. So for the second iteration, I went 80% rye, 15% wheat and 5% malted barley, wherein I noticed a substantial improvement and cohesiveness. This one had more character and purpose.
To mix things up and just see different types of blends would work, I next did a 50% rye, 40% wheat and 10% malted barley blend which wasn’t up to snuff; too soft and disjointed. It reaffirmed that I was going in the right direction originally, so I concocted one final iteration, an 85% rye, 10% wheat and 5% malted barley offering, to compare to the second version above.
After all the trial and error, it was the second formula that proved to be the personal favorite, and so I settled on a mashbill of:
- 80% rye
- 15% wheat
- 5% malted barley.
With everyone’s recipes from around the world submitted, the Flaviar X WhistlePig crew had to go about the process of sorting and sampling the results. Finally, it was time for the live blending online during which everyone could recreate the top candidates and vote on a winner. WhistlePig blender Pete Lynch presented a selection of the three top picks and everyone who participated by sending in their own recipe got a chance to taste the three selections and vote for the chosen one. About 500 people were watching from home for the session.
The three choices included: Blend 1: 75% rye, 15% wheat and 10% malted barley; Blend 2: 60% rye, 35% wheat and 5% malted barley; and Blend 3: 45% rye, 30% wheat and 25% malted barley.
The first selection was just a hair away from the blend I had made myself. It’s probably no surprise then that it was also the one for which I cast my vote.
Finally, after the votes were tallied, the winner was selected. It was Blend 3, giving the new WhistlePig Homestock whiskey a mashbill of 45% rye, 30% wheat and 25% malted barley. The new whiskey will be available for purchase by mid-May.
It was a fun initiative and a good diversion for a few afternoons, and the selected blend seems to be up to snuff, even if it wasn’t my choice. Never underestimate the power of a little whiskey to go a long way towards bringing people together, even if you have to share your drams virtually.