Battle of the Blends Whisky Magazine

UPDATE: Following huge demand, all Judging places have now been filled!

Whisky Magazine readers will know all about the Battle of the Blends already, but for those who haven’t had the pleasure of perusing their glossy pages over the last few months, it’s “a truly legendary contest… a test of skill, ingenuity and the sternest of palates” as Dave ‘The Rummager’ Broom and Neil ‘Copper Dog’ Ridley go toe to toe!

The eight rounds of blending, in accordance with the Marquis of Ridley rules (see below), have taken place and it’s now time for the all important judging! Excitingly, as we’ve been working on this alongside Whisky Mag, this means that there’s an opportunity for you to be one of the esteemed judges in this battle royale, an undertaking that will involve receiving and tasting delicious whisky. Sorry about that.


Simply drop us an email to [email protected] with your details – we’ll require your (1) name (2) postal address (3) email address (which we’ll have, as you’ll have just emailed us). Places on the panel are limited so if you don’t want to miss out, don’t delay! Please note also that Judging will close on 9th October (midnight BST).

Battle of the Blends Whisky Magazine

It’s time to go to the judges.

Both illustrious competitors began with a 20 litre first fill American oak cask that had previously been filled with high strength neutral spirit (to take some of the initial oak hit – like falling on a quercus-grenade for the benefit of their blends). Dave and Neil then seasoned their casks themselves – the former opting for rum (naturally) and the latter using his own homemade blend of Sherries (principally Oloroso, but also Manzanilla, Palo Cortado and PX).

They then enthusiastically embarked on a process of incremental, cumulative blending within a tiny and still active cask over the course of several months. Neither are of course professional blenders, nor would professional blenders work this way, but that’s the unique task these titans of drinks writing undertook. Forget about the Rumble in the Jungle, never mind the Thrilla in Manilla, this is the Battle of the Blends! May the best man win!

The Marquis of Ridley Rules

1. The first fill will be a Highland malt, Clynelish, of equal measure (1 litre).
2. All the regions of Scotland need to be incorporated: Islands (which includes Islay), Speyside, Highlands (already accounted for), Lowlands and Campbeltown. There is no order as to when these are used, but in each issue of Whisky Magazine the details of the whisky must be revealed.
3. No bottle of whisky used must cost more than £50 RRP except for the wildcard detailed below and must be commercially available in UK.
4. There must be at least one grain whisky but there are no rules as to its origin.
5. A wildcard must be chosen – this can be anything, from anywhere. The only rule here, is that it cannot be over £150 RRP. Also it must be commercially available in UK.
6. The final blend must be under 50% abv.
7. A minimum of 15 litres of blend must be prepared.
8. There are no rules as to how much of each individual whisky category that you can add.
9. The blend must be complete by 1st September 2015, after which it will be sent out for judging. The winner will be published in Whisky Magazine issue 132, which publishes on 4th December 2015.

Whilst not all has been revealed yet (a full deconstruction will appear in Whisky Mag issue 131), here’s how these bruisers’ blends were coming along at the end of Round 5…

Battle of the Blends Whisky Magazine

The bout as it stood at the end of Round 5 – quantities yet to be revealed.

What are you waiting for? Get involved!

The final results will be revealed and the knock-out blow will finally be dealt soon in Whisky Magazine and here on the Master of Malt Blog.


Don Mountain