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Whiskey Blending with the Experts: Sharpening the Senses

Thoughtfully applying the science and craft of blending offers an avenue for distilleries to elevate their products—but it begins with a serious devotion to sensory analysis.

Devin Ershow Apr 19, 2024 - 9 min read

Whiskey Blending with the Experts: Sharpening the Senses Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy Stranahan’s Whiskey

“You have to know the science side of it to make something. You have to know the art side of it to make something good.” —Rob Masters, master distiller, Family Jones Distillery

The world of whiskey has seen many trends and fads come and go over the years. Most recently we’ve witnessed the rise of cask-finished whiskey, single barrels, and hazmat-strength releases. However, a new yet old-school trend is starting to take hold in American whiskey: blending.

The truth that we in the business understand is that most of the whiskeys you see on the market are blended, unless the label carries the term “single-barrel” or “single-cask” (even if those are unregulated terms). That said, the words “blend,” “blended,” or “blending” have long carried a taboo in this country, leading consumers to believe they suggest a lower quality or cheaply made product.

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Devin Ershow is the cofounder of American Mash & Grain, a whiskey blog/blending house that endeavors to elevate the profile of the American Craft Whiskey Movement. He is also the head mixologist for Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. He is an Executive Bourbon Steward through the Stave and Thief Society and a Level 2 Award Recipient with Distinction from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET).