I’ve been hearing buzz about Woven for a while now. It’s building, slowly but surely. But as far as I’m aware, their whiskies aren’t available in the Netherlands. Instead I sourced a sample of the Woven Superblend from neighbouring Germany. Please read on, because this really is something else.
Compass Box has been proving for over two decades that there’s a market for boutique blending houses. It has taken a while, but now other companies are finally starting to recognise the value of small batch blends. Turntable Spirits is one such example (I wrote about them earlier this year). Woven, which was founded by Duncan McRae and Peter Allison during the pandemic, is another.
They made an interesting statement in the press release for their Woven Superblend. It read: “We are perhaps the first generation of whisky maker in Scotland to enter the industry without the innate belief that Scotch is superior simply because it is from Scotland.”
And something about that just rings true. Whisky has become such a global drink. Not just in terms of where it is drunk, but the fact that it is truly made all over the world. And some of the most exciting innovations and experiments are done outside of Scotland. Scotch whisky has the best reputation still, but curious whisky drinkers have been looking elsewhere. I include myself in that group. Heritage can only get you so far.
Woven Superblend is made up from 11 whiskies, ranging from three to 22 years of age. They’ve sourced malt whisky, grain whisky and bourbon from Scotland (Highland, Speyside and Campbeltown), England, Germany, Ireland and the USA. Granted, some 70% of the whisky is from Scotland still, but my interest is piqued regardless.
Peter Allison said: “Freeing whisky from geographical constraints allowed us to play with flavour and texture combinations that aren’t considered possible in Scotch whisky making.
“We brought together the candied fruit sweetness from the US and paired it with the smooth velveteen texture of Irish whisky and a distinctive organic ‘funk’ from Germany. The English whisky is a robust counter point provided by the sherry cask it was matured in while lightly peated, honeyed Scotch brings familiarity and structure.”
There’s tons of information about the Woven Superblend on the company’s website, including the exact recipe and philosophy. Be sure to check it out. But first, here are my thoughts.
Woven Superblend (46.1%, OB, 2023)
Nose: Rather fresh with some elderflower and quinces, as well as a delightful hint of cumin, some sweeter candied notes, yellow cake and charred oak. Integrated and balanced, albeit a tad shy. Taste: Decent creamy texture and richness. There’s a sliver of smoke, along with burnt toast and walnuts, but also something quite leafy, citrus-y and cereal-esque. A few gentle oak spices as well. Finish: Medium. Soft spices and herbs with some gentle orchard fruits and vanilla.
It might not be as entirely compelling as the concept, but Woven Superblend is undeniably fun, slightly different and well-put together. There's close to 40% 3-year-old single grain included, and most of the other whiskies are relatively young too, but it never comes across as immature. The Superblend also doesn't overtly rely on cask influence, instead highlighting the different spirits used.