For many people, the difference between single malt whiskies and blended whisky is just the price. Generally, it assumed that single malt whisky is more expensive than blended. However, many are surprised to learn that there is a big difference between single malt whisky and blended Scotch. The difference between the 2 is more than just price!
What is Single Malt Whisky?
Single malt whisky is whisky that has been distilled at one whisky distillery. In some respects, single malt whisky is blended because the master distiller blends whiskies from different casks at the same distillery. The end goal is to create a delicious Scotch whisky that consistently tastes good.
So, the term “single malt” refers to the fact that the whisky comes from only one distillery. Most whisky distillers prefer to us the term “vatted” whisky to refer to single malt Scotch whisky.
What is Blended Whisky?
Blended whisky marries whiskies from various distilleries and grain whisky. Blended whisky started when it was difficult to produce a lot of high-quality whisky from one distillery. So, blenders would source good whiskies and mix them with lower quality whisky to create a smoother flavour.
Most blended whiskies have a percentage of grain whisky. This is spirit that has been produced with requiring “malted” barley. It can be done very economically on a large scale.
What are Age Statements?
Most whiskies, both single malt and blended whiskies carry an age statement. The age on the bottle represents that youngest whisky that is in the whisky blend or vat. So, if a whisky says it’s is “12 year old” that means that it must contain whiskies that have all been matured in oak vats for longer than 12 years.
Recently, because of the shortage of good quality “old” whisky, many single malt distillers are selling whiskies without an age statement but with a fancy name.
Are Single Malts Always Better than Blended?
The simple answer is no. The only difference between single malts and blended whiskies is the source of the whisky. There are some whisky blends like Johnnie Walker Blue Label or Chivas Regal which are far more expensive and smoother than some single malt whiskies. Much depends on the content of grain whisky in a blend and the average of the whiskies.