What happens when pioneers in whisky get together with food and drink visionaries to explore new worlds of flavor?
Scotch Whisky brand Johnnie Walker made it its quest to find out as part of its latest explorations in flavor.
The result is the launch of three exciting new whiskies - Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Wine Cask Blend, Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Rum Cask Finish and Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Espresso Roast - borne out of over 100 ongoing Scotch experiments by the brand's small team of 12 expert blenders, and influenced by flavor cultures from around the world.
To celebrate the release of the whiskies, Johnnie Walker has launched a series of short films showcasing the blenders' collaboration with taste innovators such as renowned American chef Edward Lee, British barista James Hoffmann, sommelier André Mack, Caribbean culinary genius Jason Howard and some of the world's most celebrated bartenders.
The films provide a behind-the-scenes look at some passionate discussions on new taste combinations, with blenders Aimée Gibson and Chris Clark meeting flavor experts and lifting the lid on the whisky maker's ongoing experimentations into flavor- all of which are carried out under the guidance of Master Blender Jim Beveridge at the brand's home in Scotland.
"Our short films are a window into our endless quest for new taste experiences in Scotch", says Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge, who is a two-time Master Blender of the Year International Whisky Competition.
Jim continues: "Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch whiskies are the result of bold experiments that push the boundaries in flavor- just as Johnnie Walker Black Label did more than a century ago. Over time that experimental blend has gone on to become a true icon of Scotch all around the world."
Aimée Gibson, who led the development of Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Wine Cask Blend, adds: "With these new whiskies we wanted to make blends that can be enjoyed by all tastes, and especially by those people who might previously have thought that whisky isn't for them.
"We know how to make exceptional Scotch, we've been making it for years. However, by opening our doors to some of the world's foremost experts in food and drink, I feel we've been able to unlock new flavor and aroma combinations in our latest whiskies that are culturally relevant and that will excite new and seasoned whisky lovers."
As part of the collaboration chef and self-confessed whisky obsessive Edward Lee, alongside his fellow flavor experts, were challenged by Aimée and Chris to use their skills to further extend the possibilities of these new whiskies by developing original cocktail serves.
Using his acclaimed gastronomic expertise - and his in-depth knowledge of whisky and wine - Lee created the innovative Blueberry Scotch cocktail using Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Wine Cask Blend.
Describing the inspiration behind his cocktail, Lee says: "Aimée's knowledge of whisky made this a thrilling journey of discovery in flavor and aromas for me. I learned that the blend I was challenged to play with was curated by Aimée following the outcome of an experiment in maturation with former wine casks set in motion by her mentor Jim Beveridge over ten years ago - now that's dedication to your craft.
"This whisky is an exceptionally fruity Scotch, full of lively fresh berry, sweet toffee flavors and delicate fragrant aromas. I tasked myself with releasing the potential of the blend through a cocktail, the natural sweetness of the blueberries combined with a sprig of thyme amplified the flavors of the whisky."
For Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Espresso Roast, Aimée experimented with whiskies distilled using barley roasted more heavily than ever before resulting in punchy notes of rich coffee and dark chocolate which have been brought to life in the Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Espresso Roast Speciality cocktail, which features coffee liqueur, sweet vermouth and lemon zest.
The third blend to be released in the range, Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Rum Cask Finish, was the culmination of blender Chris Clark's experimentation with whisky finished in casks which previously held Caribbean pot still rum. Caribbean chef Jason Howard played with the whisky's smooth and spicy flavors and believes it is best enjoyed in the Johnnie Walker Rum Cask Blend Steel Drum Cooler cocktail that uses pineapple juice and ginger root to, as Jason puts it, 'awaken your palate to the layers of fruity, spicy and sweet flavors brought to life in Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Rum Cask Finish'.