Malt Whisky: A Detailed Exploration Of The Process
When a whisky is ready for the distillation process, it is typically called The Wash. Malt whisky Washes get distilled twice – unless, of course, they are single malts, then they only get distilled once.
The first time is where the substance gets put into a wash still and gets heated to boiling point. From this, the evaporation from The Wash travels to the top of the still.
It then goes into a condenser whether it is turned into its liquid state. This liquid is now an alcohol. As a percentage, it is around 20%, which is what is known as a low wine.
Of course, we ideally want the alcohol percentage to be higher than this. This is where the second distillation process comes in.
This second distillation process also occurs in a still. This time though it is the spirit still. Distillation here is divided into three parts or cuts.
Only the middle cut is used for the whisky. The remaining two cuts are then redistilled because they are deemed substandard.
This malt whisky is now 60 to 70% alcohol. It gets diluted and then placed into casks to mature.
The casks used are ones that were often used in another alcohol distilling process such as that of sherry, bourbon, and rum. This is because these flavors enhance the flavor of the whisky.
Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky
One of the oldest and most renowned distributors of single malt Scotch Whisky is the Glenfiddich Distillery. Established in 1886, Glenfiddich started out as a small distillery that relied on second-hand equipment for production. Founder William Grant ran a small family run business, which faced fierce competition from larger companies. This competition intensified after World War II, when tastes turned towards the less sophisticated whiskey blends.
The Grant family persisted however, and made the decision in 1963 to market its product outside of Scotland as a strict single malt. While some considered this foolish, the move turned out to be a wise one. Today, Glenfiddich is the largest producer of single malt whiskey in the world, and one of only a handful of distillers that is still being run by a family operation.
Most single malt connoisseurs will admit that it was image that first drew them to the spirit, and taste that kept them there. There is no denying that single malts have a distinct robust flavor that is meant to be savored, not downed and chased. For some this is an acquired taste, building slowly by drinking only high quality single malts with nothing more than a splash of water.
Where To Buy Single Malt Whiskey
Single malt whiskey has a prestigious reputation, and the average liquor store should have at least a few options. For the best selection, seek out a store with a more extensive selection of high-end spirits or one that specializes in whiskey. Depending on the shipping regulations where you live, shopping online offers a nearly endless supply of single malts to explore.
In general, you can expect to pay more for a bottle of single malt whiskey than you will for a blended whiskey. The reputation of a distillery and the age of that particular bottle also play into the price. A 50-year old single malt Scotch whisky from a famous distillery will cost more than a 15-year-old single malt American craft whiskey, for instance.
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How Did Single Malt Become Better Regarded
So how did we get from this position, to a time where Pops now believes that the only whisky worth touching is single malt? Well, legend apparently has it that the boom in single malt whisky started when a work experience kid at Glenfiddich in the early 1960s was challenged to ‘get rid of’ an oversupply of 12-year-old whisky. He came up with the bright idea of bottling it as a single malt and begin promoting it as ‘better’ or ‘more genuine’ than blended whisky. Fifty years on and Glenfiddich remains the biggest selling single malt in the world, and many consumers, at least in the west, still believe that single malt is somehow better, or more real than blended whisky. I hope he got a full-time job out of it.
Despite this, the reality for most consumers around the world is that scotch whisky is blended whisky. Just consider the biggest selling whisky brands: Johnnie Walker, Ballantines, Grants, Chivas Regal. In fact, the top twenty are all blends, so Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet are not even close to a seat at the top table.
Are all of these consumers wrong? Well, of course they could be, but it seems unlikely, and if they’re drinking what they like, then they’re doing it right as far as I’m concerned. Think of it like comparing a fine red Burgundy to a fine red Bordeaux: the Burgundy will be made with a single grape variety and Bordeaux will be a blend . Neither is necessarily better nowadays. Its just a matter of style.
What Is The Best Blended Scotch
The Best Blended Scotch. Blended scotch means a blend of one or more malt whiskeys with one or more grain whiskeys, and it is scotch of this type that dominates on the shelves of bars and liquor stores everywhere. Even some of the entries on the top shelf are blended scotch, rather than vatted malt or single malt,
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Which Is Better Blended Or Single Malt
Single malt whiskeys are based exclusively on barley, but blended whiskeys may be made from corn, rye, or even wheat. Blended whiskey can be produced much faster, and at a much lower cost, by distillers using this process. Due to this, blended whiskey is more popular, despite the fact that single malts have an obvious advantage in terms of taste and aroma.
Why Is Single Malt More Expensive
There is a difference between the price of single malt whiskey and blended whiskey. Both the cost of production and the time it takes for the product to mature play a role in this. Whiskey produced from blended grains is more expensive than whiskies made from barley. Also, there is the factor of age.
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How Much Does Age Matter
The age of a single malt is often its major selling point, but when you go back to the subject of vatting, it becomes clear that different aged barrels of whiskey are being married together to form one single malt. Distillers will use the minimum age of the youngest whiskey to be added during vatting. So while you think you are drinking a 12 year old scotch, the truth is, it may be considerably older. The amount of each barrel used does not affect the age of the single malt at all. So long as there are trace amounts of 12 year old alcohol being added, it becomes a 12 year old spirit.
Taste Differences In Single
The world of food and drink is marked by a number of divisive debates each argued by its advocates with a near-religious intensity. For example, among drinkers of Scotch whisky there’s a sharp line between those who appreciate blended Scotch on its merits and those who hold that only single-malt Scotch is worth drinking. Both approaches can produce good whiskies notable for a range of sweet, smoky and even fruity flavors.
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Vatted Or Blended Malt
A Vatted whisky and vatted malt are old terms for Blended malt. Blended malt scotch whisky is the legal, technical term for a blend of two or more single malt whiskys from two different distilleries. Simply, these are single malt scotches from different areas of Scotland that are blended together to create a new bottle with a specific taste profile.
How is this different from Single Malt? Remember single malt is a blend of matured scotches from all within one distillery, a highlight of that distillerys technique.
A vatted malt is a blend of matured scotches from different distilleries, usually created by a separate blending company.
Vatted or Blended Malt is probably the closest approximation of what double malt is intended to mean, though we cant be sure. Many vatted malt scotch bottles only include two distilleries and these will be marked on the bottle.
Other vatted malts include more than two single malts. The age stated on the bottle is still the youngest whisky included in the blend. Compass Box makes a number of these that we will discuss below!
Single Malt Vs Blended: Price
- As mentioned earlier, these malts are the crème de la crème of the liquor world, so they are always positioned and priced on the top end. Older collectible bottles of these whiskeys can fetch staggering prices.
- Blends use grain whiskey as a significant ingredient that can be mass-produced for a relatively low pricethese grains used in the whiskey result in a more affordable product for the consumers to buy.
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What Does Blended Whisky Taste Like
Blended whisky is similar to blended malt in the number of options you can find. However blended whisky wont be as clearly marked with the style and type so youll have to get some help when shopping for a bottle you like. They range from light, honey, citrusy, and floral to dark, rich, caramely, and spicy.
You should note that blended grains will be much lighter and more approachable since grains like wheat and corn tend to be sweeter. Unless you get a rye blend, then be prepared for a bit of a kick!
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Single malt Scotch whisky is made in Scotland from malted barley as its only grain. Also, it must be produced at a single distillery using batch distillation via pot stills. The pot stills are required, but double distillation isnt. There are notable outliers there, such as Auchentoshan, which follows a triple pot distillation regimen.
The Glenlivet 12 Year /Photo Credit: The Glenlivet
As all single malt must be pot distilled, and can by definition only come from one place, the pot stills used by a particular distillery are of the utmost importance. Indeed the shape and size of pot stills serve as the key drivers of flavor and differentiation for one distillery versus another. From bulbous and stout to tall and narrow, pot stills are both hugely variable and hugely important.
The major single malts likely need no introduction. Think about names such as Balvenie, Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Glenmorangie. Or if you like peated whiskies, the Islay mainstays of Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Bowmore are sure to ring a bell.
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Main Differences Between Single Malt Vs Double Malt:
The main differences between Single Malt vs Double malt are:
- Single malt whiskey is made in one distillery, whereas Double Malt whiskey is produced in two distilleries.
- Single Malt can only be made with barley and water, whereas Double Malt includes other grains other than barley.
- Single Malt must be aged a minimum of 3 years in oak, whereas Double Malt has no aging requirement
Which Is The Best Whisky For Health
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So What Can I Take Away
In the world of scotches, everything is dependent on location. So if you get confused, focus on that aspect.
A single malt comes from one distillery, one location. Its a chance for that distillery to showcase its unique whiskey-making process. Once you find a good Single Malt Scotch, you know youll have a best friend for life!
A blended scotch can be a combination of many different distilleries and even many different grain types. They are an excellent way to select a specific flavor profile, and you always have the option to try new blends as the years go by! Now head out to your local bar and sample the best Scotland has to offer.
What Does Scotch Taste Like
Oh boy, what a complicated question!
Just like wines, Scotch flavors are largely dependent on location. Some areas are extra peated while others are soft and sweet and still others are full-bodied smoke .
When tasting from a distillery, keep in mind where in Scotland the distillery operates. There are five distinct areas of Scotland that can be grouped according to general taste.
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How To Blend Plaster And Drywall
Skim-coating with all-purpose joint compound is an effective way to blend the two materials. To skim coat, you lay a thin coat of mud on the entire wall and scrape it flat with a drywall knife. Another way to match the surfaces is to roll dilute mud on the wall with a paint roller to create a mottled texture.
Is Single Malt Better Than Blended Whiskey
Whiskey from single malt distilleries is regarded as a more premium spirit than whiskey from blended distilleries. Because of this, they have been mistaken for being more flavorful and smootier. Scotch whiskey is a malted barley drink infused with oak and aged for years in barrels.
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Whats So Special About Single Malt Whiskey
Single malt whiskeys have the reputation of being the best whiskeys in the world. Of course, the truth is that they are the best whiskeys in world.
Unless you like a blended whiskey better, because personal preference is the most important thing when deciding whether to drink your favorite whiskey or one that someone else tells you is the best in the world.
The impression of single malt whiskeys as being special, may come from the fact that blended whiskeys are quicker and cheaper to produce. Since each whiskey in the blend is not needed for its own flavor per se, but as part of a blend to balance multiple, diverse flavors, they dont need to be aged for as long. Also, when demand is high, distilleries produce whiskeys that can be made more quickly.
However, the reputation of single malt whiskey does have some legitimacy. Single malt whiskeys are made to achieve the very distinctive flavors and characteristics that exemplify a particular distillerys style. They are aged for longer so they will have more of that unique and distinct flavor.
So whereas blended whiskeys may have more diverse flavors, single malts have more of a given flavor. Both of course have their place, but we can see why single malts are special.
Why Is Single Malt Better
Well, as a matter of fact single malt is not better than blended. This is because it is all subjective, your taste is the deciding factor. In recent years advertisers have been pushing single malt hard because it tends to cost more. The higher the price on the end product, the more money there is to be had.
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Is Single Malt Better Than Double Malt
This variant is cheaper than single malt whiskey and is quite popular among spirit lovers as well. When it comes to taste different, single malts have a unique fruity taste that is soft on the palate and has a dry finish. However, double malt offers a mix of flavours, is sharp in taste and has a more lingering finish.
What Does Single Malt Mean
Although other countries do produce single malt whiskeys, this usually refers to malt whiskey made in Scotland at a single distillery.
Despite being called single malt and coming from one distillery it nonetheless contains more than one whiskey. This is because a single malt is a blend of the same whiskey from different casks and years. This is done because the taste of every run is slightly different and so must be blended in the above way to ensure a consistent and recognizable taste.
The only exception to this is if your single malt is also single cask / barrel whiskey which means it comes from one cask and is not blended even with the same whiskey from different casks and years, so it will have a completely unique taste.
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Is Single Malt More Expensive Than Blended
It is generally safe to assume that the drink has been created by a single distillery through a specific procedure. It is distilled from malted barley, and pot stills are used. Ageing three years and more is mandatory. The price difference between blends and single malts can be substantial, and some might even argue that blends are less palatable.
Single Malt And Blended Scotch 101
The single malt vs. blended scotch debate is still a hot topic. Single malt enthusiasts will argue that the drinks are superior to blended scotch. And of course, proponents of the beloved blended scotch will have to disagree.
So whats the big deal? Single malts make up a percentage of blended scotch anyway, so arent they essentially the same thing?
Not exactly. If you have a specific flavor profile youre thirsting after, for example, then youll have to know the difference between single malt and blended scotch.
Being a complete novice in the whiskey world can be daunting. So here is some insight that can act as a compass to help you navigate the amber waves of the Scotch Sea.
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