Understanding the difference between single malt and blended whisky is helpful in understanding the huge world of blended scotch whisky. Single-malt Scotch is not a blended whisky, despite what some customers and even some bartenders believe. Even though single-malt scotch is a blend, it is a very particular kind of blend. Although practically all whiskies on the market today are blends, including bourbons, ryes, Tennessee whiskies, and scotches. The misunderstanding of the words “blend” and “single,” which appear to be simple but actually conceal a more complex reality, is what causes the confusion.
Single Malt Whiskey
Single malt whisky is produced by a single distiller using malted barley. It should be noted that it differs from single grain whisky, which is produced by a distiller using other grains besides barley, and from single barrel whisky, which ages in a single barrel rather than several at the same distillery.
Malt and grain whiskies from a number of distilleries are combined to create blended whisky, also known as vatted whisky. This blending (or vatting) procedure is supervised by a qualified expert to get the optimal flavour and smoothness. It’s a popular misperception that blended malt whisky and blended grain whisky are made entirely of malt or grain, respectively. In reality, blended grain whisky often predominates in spirits that are marketed as blended malt whisky, and vice versa.
Although single malt and blended whiskies may have a similar flavour, the two methods of distillation differ significantly. Take into account these three points of distinction:
Ageing: When purchasing a single malt, you should aim for a whisky that is at least three years old. For at least five years, most blended whiskies are aged.
Flavour: No matter whether a whisky is single malt or blended, you can expect each one to taste distinct. Due to its single origin, single malt whisky will probably have a more consistent flavour than blended whiskies, which may include different characteristics. The flavour profile of a whisky is still influenced by a wide range of other characteristics. For instance, a spirit that is brewed or aged in an oak cask (or barrel) would taste different than one that is aged in a sherry cask.
Distillery: Single distilleries only produce single malt whiskies. Aged and fermented barley and grain from numerous distilleries are combined to create blended whiskies.
How Is Whiskey Made
Distillers start making whisky by soaking and crushing barley or other grains in water. They then use yeast to ferment the grains’ sugars. The actual distilling procedure involves using pot stills or column stills to separate the alcoholic component of the fermented yeast and grains from the remaining mixture. Producers package and label whiskies using their ABV after distillation and maturation (or ageing) (alcohol by volume). Other spirits, such as cognac or tequila, are made using the same basic procedure by producers, but with bases other than barley and grain.
Whiskey and Scotch
While every whisky variety is a Scotch spirit, not every whisky variety is a Scotch spirit. The spelling of the two beverages differs as well: whisky has a “e” in Scotch whisky but not in other whiskies. Scottish whisky lovers may typically tell whether a whisky is a Scottish-made variety of whisky by looking at the spelling on the bottle, such as spirits labelled “single malt Scotch whisky,” “single grain whisky,” “blended malt whisky,” etc. A single malt Scotch or blended Scotch whisky must be produced in Scotland in order to be classified as Scotch rather than merely whisky. In other words, a single malt whisky from the Scottish Highlands or a blended grain whisky from the Scottish island of Islay can both be considered Scotch. In contrast, single malt whisky from Nashville is Tennessee whisky, while a blended whisky from Dublin is Irish whisky. Neither of these beverages is Scotch whisky.