The Whisky Exchange recently announced the launch of an extraordinary new tasting box that celebrates the evolution of whisky over the past 20 years. We were lucky enough to join a few choice journalists – along with The Whisky Exchange co-founder Sukhinder Singh and Ambassador Billy Abbott – for a preview of this epic set…
The last near year and a half has gotten us pretty used to virtual tastings and receiving an abundance of sample bottles of delicious spirits through our letterbox. However, it is safe to say that we were not even slightly prepared for the Goliath 20 Whiskies that Changed the World Tasting Set that arrived on our doorstep a few days after we eagerly accepted the invite to this particular tasting. Talk about presentation!
Judging a Tasting Set by its Cover
Designed by The Whisky Exchange’s in-house peeps, the box that contains these groundbreaking whiskies second only to the liquids themselves (high praise, yes, but seriously, it’s beautiful). Matt navy blue with embossed, Art Deco-esque, stained glass graphics depicting Charles Doig’s famous cupola distillery roofs, elegant still swan necks, arches of Perfect Measure tasting glasses, and more – it’s a true work of art. On the front, a framed cream label with raised gold foiling announces the name of the set in tactile splendour.
Inside, a book sits snugly atop of the bottles. This is a in-depth but accessible guide to the set, which has been broken up into four flights of five bottles – Whisky Revolution, Magic of the Cask, Peat Makes the World Go Round, and The New World. As well as an introduction to the reasoning behind the box’s creation and the chosen flights, the book contains two pages on each whisky, with detailed info about the expression, why it was picked, tasting notes, and space for your own notes.
The 20, 30ml whiskies themselves sit neatly in rows of five, with the fourth flight found in a second layer drawer, along with two Perfect Measure tasting glasses – designed by Sukhinder for the ultimate tasting experience. The idea here is that the set is meant to be shared and enjoyed at the leisure of its lucky owner. Those who purchase the set receive not only the box and its contents, but also have access to online tasting videos with Sukhinder and Billy, who discuss each expression within each flight, giving insight into every bottling.
Why Create the set?
After we’ve done a fair bit of fawning over the box, Sukhinder and Billy introduce themselves and discuss the reason behind The Whisky Exchange’s 20 Whiskies That Changed the World Tasting Set. Sukhinder explains the desire to celebrate the past 20 years of the world’s whisky as both a way of gently guiding newcomers through the sometimes intimidating world of whisky, as well as allowing aficionados to come back to some truly astounding expressions that have changed the course of the category.
“The pack came about with two ideas: one was that actually, whisky is on fire. It’s exploding. I thought it was on fire five years ago, but it’s seriously on fire today. […] I think, with so much product on the market, for a new person coming into whisky, it can be quite a frightening place. You know, you’ve got an array of wood finishes, you’ve got an array of single cask bottlings from a multitude of independent bottlers, and for a new person that is quite scary. So I think that was really one idea: just give people a way to sort of step into the magical world of whisky, which we all love, and try and do it in any way they wanted to.
“The pack is supposed to be friendly. You choose your own path; you can do any whisky at any time, as little or as much as you want.
“The other side of it was that, you know, if you go back 20 years plus, the whisky industry was a very, very different world. I could actually keep up with whisky; there weren’t that many releases. You used to get maybe five to 10 releases a month. Nowadays it’s a minimum of 100!
“All these whiskies were chosen because they’ve been a favourite at some point, and they’ve all been quite revolutionary. They’ve basically set the benchmark and other companies have followed, looked, and been inspired by these products.
“This set is really not only for the beginner; it’s for everyone because, you know, I know all these whiskies, but I don’t actually get a chance to come back to them because there’s so much new stuff happening. You forget about some of these whiskies and I think it’s really refreshing – and in many cases a lovely surprise – to come back to them and say, ‘I knew it was good. I used to love it. Why don’t I drink it anymore?’. It really was interesting to see that these things still hold up, they still have their place, they still do their thing.”
Our thoughts on The Whisky Exchange’s 20 Whiskies That Changed the World Tasting Set
Once their decision to create this set has been explained, it seems almost ludicrous that no one has done it before.
As we tease the bottles out of their foam casing, we’re struck by how many old loves are present, as well as being astounded by some of the rare and pricey gems tucked away in each flight. The curation of each flight has clearly been lovingly done, and we work our way through a taste from each flight together, revelling in each dram and the knowledge imparted by the two passionate career-nerds, as well as the chat from our fellow imbibers.
Whether you’re a staunch whisky fanatic or a timidly curious visitor, The Whisky Exchange’s 20 Whiskies That Changed the World Tasting Set genuinely has 20 somethings for you. Whilst not every single dram may be your new favourite, the ability to work your way through so many groundbreaking expressions from around the globe without having to purchase full size bottles (if you can even find them) is not something to be passed over lightly.
What’s more, the 20 Whiskies That Changed the World Tasting Set is available to purchase for only £160 – a complete steal for this size and quality case, which includes some super expensive and hard to come by liquid. If you’re a whisky lover or someone intrigued by the category, it’s not too hyperbolic to say that your home tastings and palate will massively benefit from getting your hands on this set. We certainly can’t wait to finish working our way through all these beauties.
The Whisky Exchange’s 20 Whiskies That Changed the World Tasting Set is available to purchase from 4th June for £160. Buy it here.
Full list of whiskies:
Compass Box Hedonism – Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
Monkey Shoulder The Original – Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Clynelish 14 Year Old – Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old – Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Johnnie Walker Blue Label – Blended Scotch Whisky
Magic of the Cask
The Balvenie 12 Year Old DoubleWood – Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Macallan 18 Year Old Sherry Cask – Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Glendronach 15 Year Old – Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Dalmore King Alexander III – Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength – Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Peat Makes the World Go Round
Talisker 18 Year Old – Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Springbank 10 Year Old – Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Laphroaig Quarter Cask – Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Lagavulin 16 Year Old – Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Octomore 10 Year Old Fourth Edition – Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The New World
The Yamazaki 12 Year Old – Japanese Single Malt Whisky
Nikka Coffey Malt – Japanese Single Grain Whisky
Amrut Fusion – India Single Malt Whisky
Blanton’s Gold- Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Rye – Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey