Types of Whisky

Single Malt Whisky

Single malt whisky is whisky distilled at a single distillery. Malted barley, the only cereal ingredient, and water, is fermented and then distilled using a pot still, batch distillation process. The resultant spirit after distillation is filled into oak casks, which could have originally held bourbon or sherry. To be called Single Malt Scotch Whisky, the spirit must be matured in Scotland for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks, and bottled in Scotland. This type of whisky is the most appreciated amongst whisky drinkers.
Examples:

Glenlivet 12yo                                      glenlivet12yo_480Macallan 12yo macallan10yo_480

Blended Malt Whisky

Blended malt is a combination of Single Malt whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery. This used to be known as vatted or pure malt but following controversy in 2004 the Scotch Whisky Association changed the name to blended malt to disarm confusion. The common misconception about blended malt is that it contains grain whisky this is not the case; blended malt contains 100% malt whisky. Blended grain is similar to blended malt although the whisky used is 100% grain and comes from more than one grain distillery.
Examples:

Campbeltown Loch                         Auld Reekie 10yoauld_reekie10yo_480
campbeltown_loch_480

Blended Whisky

Blended whisky is a blend of one or more Single Malt whiskies with one or more Single Grain Whiskies. Blended whiskies were created in the mid 19th century to combat the need for a lighter, more palatable spirit as the Highland malt whiskies were of a rather harsh and strong flavour. The boom period in the late 19th century threw up many famous names within the blending industry most notably Tommy Dewar, James Buchanan and Alexander Walker. Blends are less favourable these days as Single Malts are very much the drink of choice, but blends still make up a large part of the whisky drinking market.
Examples:

Johnnie Walker Black Label                 Bell's

bells_40.jpg_480

johnnie_black_480_02

Grain Whisky

The invention of the continuous still, firstly patented by Robert Stein then perfected by Aneas Coffey in 1830 revolutionised the distilling industry. At that point in time batch pot still distilling was expensive to run. The costs of raw materials, labour and energy were very high. The Coffey designed continuous still evolved the distilling process in a number of advantageous ways: the cost of resources could be kept down as different unmalted grains such as maize and wheat could be used to make the product and the yield from the distillation gave a higher amount than batch distilling. Grain whisky is of a smoother and lighter flavour than malt whisky as there are less flavour congeners present. The smooth complexion allowed for it to be blended with the harsher flavours of malt whisky to produce a smoother more rounded product. Single grain releases are quite rare although well-aged grain whiskies can hold surprisingly complex flavours.
Examples:

Cameronbrig                                   Hedonism

hedonism_480cameron-brig_480_01

Whisky News

Mailing List


Join the mailing list now and receive a free Whiskies of Scotland Nosing & Tasting guide

Click to begin