Done right, blending is like cooking, taking whiskeys with different flavor profiles — honeyed, spicy, caramel, smoky — and combining them into something cohesive and original.
“For us, it’s all about nuance, and finding new flavors and profiles,” Mr. Beatrice said. The goal of blending, he said, is to tease those out, “so that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
This kind of blending, aiming to create new flavors, not just cheaper whiskey, is common in Scotch. Compass Box, a company founded by an American expatriate named John Glaser, has turned out dozens of highly acclaimed blends, ranging in price from $35 to about $800.
Such an approach may be where American whiskey is headed. Every distillery has a house style, which can be both a mark of distinction and a limitation. And most distilleries have an incentive to keep their products consistent, year after year.
Companies like Lost Lantern and Barrell offer the opposite. To them, distilleries are making the raw ingredients, which they use to create a final, more complex whiskey. For drinkers always looking for something new, blenders and independent bottlers could offer a constant source of surprise.
It’s still a new idea in America, said Ms. Ganley-Roper, one that takes some whiskey fans aback — but just for a bit.
“We love that moment when people go in all apprehensive,” she said, “and then, suddenly, they say, ‘Aha!’”