There are a lot of misconceptions regarding Scotch whiskeys, perhaps the most common one being the difference between ‘blended’ and ‘single malts’. Even a lot of whiskey enthusiasts don’t know the exact difference of these two terms and I, myself have been in numerous bar conversations where people who know a thing or two about whiskey failed to get this right.
What people usually believe is that ‘single malt’ whiskeys come from the same barrel while ‘blended’ whiskeys’ come from various barrels. This couldn’t be further from the truth though. Single malt whiskeys are not single barrel whiskeys – they come from different barrels as with the case of blended whiskeys. The difference is on the distillery.
Here’s how it goes. (the article continues after the ad)
SINGLE MALT WHISKEYS
Single malts are whiskeys made at a single distillery with malted barley in pot stills. The end product contains whiskeys from many barrels but only from that specific distillery. In other words, a single malt is still a blended whiskey but the whiskeys that are blended in order to create the single malt come from one distillery. For example, a Glenfiddich 15-year old will not contain any whiskey that’s produced in the Lagavulin distillery – it will only contain whiskeys produced in the Glenfiddich distillery.
The goal here is to create a signature product with very distinctive flavors that will make a distillery’s style distinguishable.
Now that we know what a single malt is, i think it’s pretty obvious what’s a ‘blended’ whiskey. Simply said, blended whiskeys are whiskeys that are made when blending single malts from different distilleries and mixing them with corn and/or wheat whiskeys. For example, a Johnie Walker Black Label will contain whiskeys made from Caol ila distillery, Talisker distillery as well as other distilleries in the region.
The goal of a blended whiskey is to combine different single malts in order to create a smoothest, harmonious and versatile product.