Is English whisky "New World'", "Old World" or "Best of Both Worlds?"

English whisky is a young category. How do you see it developing? Taking on Scotch or carving its own path?

Circumstance Distillery is very much ‘New World’ ,but we take inspiration from both.

I guess it depends on your definition. Based on historical production there is an argument that English Whisky is old world. However I think it is clearer to consider the volume of continual production more than historical references.

I also think it’s difficult to split countries in to old and new world, most whisky producing nations have distilleries producing styles that align with both. That said the same is true in wine, an Australian winery producing a Bordeaux blend is making new world wine with old world techniques.

From a consumer perspective I would say English Whisky is New World, it’s emerging and evolving rapidly,
it doesn’t have the lineage of Scotch, but it also doesn’t have the restrictions and regulations of scotch either.

However, many English distilleries are essentially making “south of the boarder scotch”, so stylistically if you pour a dram of English Whisky your likely to taste something that feels quite old world (ala Ozzy Bordeaux). A dram from Sweden, Tasmania, Iceland, Mexico etc is way more likely to be something very new. Again this is statistically speaking, there are plenty of people making innovative liquid in England.

In summary, England is somewhere in the middle. Not the Old World of Scotland and Ireland, and not the New World of our Nordic and antipodean friends. I guess time will tell which way it shifts, or maybe the lines will blur entirely.

I for one will be drinking lots of drams from both worlds.

1 Like

I think it’s an interesting debate. We can’t turn our backs on the rich history of Scotch and Irish obviously, their restrictions have been put in place to protect geo denomination like Champagne. Its arguably where commercial distilling started if you speak to the Irish - 1608.

However, it can be argued that this stifles creativity and innovation which we are seeing in spades now which is fantastic.

The comparison with New World/Old World and how it changed wine I find rich territory - there were a bunch of key guys - the “flying wine makers” as they were called who were predominantly French and Aussie who went around and did vintages in different places.

I wonder if we’ll see “flying distillers” and collaborations between new wave and established houses.

Is this something people would like to see?

“flying distillers” would definitely be something I’d like to see. Distillers spend a lot of effort with their mash and still setup, and each still has its own ‘character’. So having an amazing distiller work on different kit could produce some interesting (and delicious) results.