Blended whiskies – old vs. new


Not so long ago I had a chance to try well known blends. Worth mentioning they weren‘t common – those I had were from the past – around 80‘s. So we tried Teacher’s, White Horse and Dimple 12 Year Old. All bottled about 30 years ago. For my own interest, I will compare them with recent versions. All of them still exists - Teacher‘s and White Horse, while I took Dimple 15 year old, as I didn‘t find 12 yo version. Some may ask why I want this? Simply enough – I have heard enough that older blends were better, they had higher proportion of malt whisky, higher quality, etc. On the label of old Teacher’s I have there’s even written that malt proportion is ‘higher than 45%”. Most likely it’s Ardmore, right? So let’s just try and see what happens.

First one is White Horse – some may know, that in older times one of the ingredients, maybe even the most important one was Lagavulin. Yes! So older one is really richer blend ir more delicate at the same time. New one is very aromatic – lot’s of vanilla, you can also feel more citrus fruits and alcohol. Had to say if the time made first one more gentle or malts proportion was high. But I liked that one much more. I could even choose it for enjoinment instead of some nowadays malts.

For Teacher’s case the difference is even higher. With new one – it’s even worse and I really liked the older one, which has less intensive aroma, but much deeper character, more notes. Modern Teacher’s punches me back with its synthetic vanilla and caramel, hard to find other notes.

With Dimple we have bit different situation, as whiskies are matured for longer period – 12 and 15 years, comparing to former ones where age most likely is 3-4 years. And the difference is way much lower – both are drinkable and pleasant. And older one, aged for 15 years becomes this session favorite. These nice notes of honey, wood, spice and ripe fruits win my attention. Modern Dimple is less natural, sweeter, more alcohol.

For conclusion – for all 3 fights I appreciated old version more. I think others might have different opinions. For sure, blends are less interesting, unique and colorful comparing them to malts. But if there is (and I’m sure there is) such a tendency that majority of blends are becoming undrinkable, I don’t like that. Anyway, I believe some changes occur in the bottle also – older ones were more gentle, didn’t have any traces of alcohol.

I do not miss „good ol‘ times“, I‘m young enough not having opportunity for this. But I do believe in some cycles. This time whisky is on the edge, demand is high and not every distillery can satisfy it. In single malts world we see much more younger bottlings and ones even without age statement. Obviously blends are become more dull cause of lack for malts to fill in. So we, whisky lovers, anoraks, geeks, or how we call themselves, are waiting when this wave will slow down a bit and whisky makers will be able to catch their breath. And whisky will be more accessible again. In the other hand I’m happy that single malts are becoming more and more popular – people rather choosing less, but better.