The new blend, jointly developed by Button and Taiwan-based drinks consultant George Koutsakis, is named after the historic process of designing and hand building the bodywork for a luxury car. It brings together malt and grain whiskies from the five main regions of Scotland: Islay, Campbeltown, Speyside, the Highlands and the Lowlands, before being married together and extra matured in ex-sherry casks and finally bottled at 46%
Button, who also last year revived the fortunes of the formerly defunct British coachworks company Radford, (which famously built bespoke Minis for each member of the Beatles in the 1960s,) explained the impetus behind the whisky.
‘Coachbuilding is something which started decades ago, where a driver would buy a car chassis like a Rolls Royce or a Bentley and then have a bespoke body developed completely from scratch. When I helped to relaunch the Radford company, I realised that there are a lot of parallels between the art of blending whisky and the craft of coachbuilding: bringing together really distinct elements and crafting something extra special as a result.’
Button, who won the F1 world championship back in 2009 has been heavily involved in the sensory aspects of developing the whisky, a process which first began in 2021, and, as he explains, wasn’t the first time he turned his hand to whisky. ‘Back when I was driving for the McLaren F1 team, I had the opportunity to put together a blended whisky for Johnnie Walker, by smell alone,’ he smiled, ‘as I wasn’t allowed to taste it, because I was driving in a Grand Prix that weekend.’
The Coachbuilt whisky bottle has been designed to mirror elements of a vintage racing car from the 1950s, with its indented parallel lines taking inspiration from the sculpted aluminium framework they were often constructed from, and also uses the classic racing wheel nut or ‘spinner’ as its main emblem.
Both Button and Koutsakis set out to create a rich, complex whisky with a predominant note of smoke and the blend harks back to a time often known as Golden Age of blending during the 1920s, where the malt whisky content was considerably higher than those blends available today. As Button suggests, “it is a whisky which has been designed to work well neat, over ice, which is how I drink it at home, or in cocktails, like the Highball”.
Batch one of Coachbuilt is limited to 12,000 bottles and is currently available directly from coachbuiltwhisky.com, priced at £42.
Rich, buttery aromas and a waft of gentle woody smoke arrive first, with a soft fruitiness and hints of cinnamon, clove and dried fruit. On the palate it is smooth, with a distinct note of toffee and dark chocolate, followed by more smokiness and light citrus zest.