It’s not everyday you talk to a master blender of scotch whisky. It’s also not every day you can buy a bottle of Johnnie Walker Double Black, as it’s only out for the holiday season.
But luckily, in a rare interview, Metro was able to get master blender Jim Beveridge to discuss both — in his thick Scottish brogue, no less.
“Well, it’s quite a lot, really,” he laughed when asked what a master blender does on a day-to-day basis. (To wit, he’s the man: he creates the whiskies you’ll be drinking now and in a few decades.) “The key to the whole job is understanding the flavors and how they combine to create a great blend. That’s the first requirement.”
Beveridge says the main job requirement is thinking about how flavors mix and express themselves as well as what kind of cask to let them mature in. But, as he notes, all master blenders have to have one eye on the future. “The whiskies for Black Label that are being distilled today will be in our warehouses for 12 years before it will be used, so I have to think ahead as well.”
One of the whiskies Beveridge has had a hand in creating is the aforementioned Johnnie Walker Double Black. For the spirit, Beveridge blends more of the Islay scotches into the blend so it’s more smoky than the regular Black Label. “The starting point is Johnnie Walker Black Label,” he explains about how he created the special blend. “So it has all of the complex flavors and mixture of fruitiness and sweet vanilla flavors and the classic smokiness of it; I like to think the Double Black as being dialed up a bit.”
Another worthy gift for the season
Beveridge also created Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which, at $220 a bottle, is the rarest blend in the Walker portfolio. For the holiday season, you can engrave a bottle with a printed or handwritten message. Buy a bottle and get the engraving done at their stand in Grand Central Terminal, Graybar Passage, from Monday through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.