Single Malts But Dont Call Them Scotch
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By Eric Asimov
- May 12, 2016
Its as Scottish as Robert Burns, tartans and the wail of the pipes. I mean whisky, of course, single malt in particular. The proverbial wee dram is a romance in heather and smoke, fascinating the world over yet always traced back to the foggy glens of Scotland.
Actually, that last bit is not true, and it hasnt been for years. Single malts may always be associated with Scotland, but now they are of the world, made in every continent but Antarctica and all over the United States. The Japanese have been making single malts for decades, and the rest of the world is catching up.
How can Scotch be made outside of Scotland? It cant. By law, a whisky can only be called Scotch if it is distilled in Scotland according to a set of specific rules. But single malt whiskey can be distilled anywhere.
Noting the growing number of malt whiskies from unexpected origins, the Food section tasting panel recently sampled 20 single malts from anywhere but Scotland. We found bottles from Japan and Taiwan, from India and Canada, from the United States and all over Europe, including Ireland, which insists on using its traditional spelling whiskey, unlike the rest of the single-malt producing universe, which, in deference to its inspiration, follows the Scottish usage of whisky.
The traditional approach has been so well traveled, Sean said. If these new approaches can be harnessed, it could really broaden the style.
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How To Drink Single Malt Whiskey
Typically, single malt whiskey is reserved for sipping straight, especially those at the luxury level, primarily because of the higher price. It may be served on the rocks or with a splash of soda or water. Single malts do make a very nice cocktail, though. If you are comfortable with mixing the single malt in your bar, do so because it will produce an excellent high-end cocktail. No matter the whiskey, the most important consideration is that you, as the drinker, enjoy how it’s served.
What Does Single Malt Taste Like
There is no good answer to this question, and thats part of the reason scotch has been so successful and so popular. There seems to be a flavor and style for everyone!
Scotch ranges in taste based on where in Scotland it is from and what techniques were used in the distillerys process. Each distillery puts their own unique spin on their single malt, so youll find different taste profiles even within a distillerys product lineup. Something aged for 8 years, for example, will be much lighter and less complex is flavor than an 18-year single malt. I could make a list of all the possible flavors, but you would be reading this all day.
But there are general classifications, based on location, that you can use to group scotches into flavor profiles. This will help you when picking out a bottle!
The Highlands northern-most region of Scotland and by far the largest. Flavors vary, so they can be hard to pin down. Youll find a range from light, fruity, and sweet, too salty, dark, and rich. Examples: Dalmore, Ardmore, and Oban
A very intense dram that needs quite a bit of water. But youll note interesting flavors like coconut, boiled fruits, and a bit of grass and sherbert!
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Difference Between Single Malt And Blended Scotch Whisky
What is the difference between a single malt and blended whisky? Which is the better option of the two? Find answers to these questions and more in this article.
What is the difference between a single malt and blended whisky? Which is the better option of the two? Find answers to these questions and more in this article.
Nectar of Gods, An Indulgence for the Senses, Water of Life call it what you like, its the ultimate Scotch whisky that we are talking about. Talk about love for a literal high! Scotch, as we know, is a synonym for sophistication and class. And those of you who are connoisseurs of spirits, having knowledge about the make, the type and brand becomes a prerequisite. After all, having a taste for all the good things in life is not a bad idea and absolutely not when it comes to treating your taste buds to something good.
Single Malt Vs Blended Whiskey
Technically, single malt whiskey is a blend of malt whiskeys produced at one distillery. That doesn’t mean that it’s the same as a blended whiskey, whether it be scotch or any other style. For instance, blended Scotch whisky, such as Johnny Walker and Chivas Regal, is made from malted barley whiskeys and grain whiskeys. Quite often, the whiskeys come from multiple distilleries. There is also “blended malt whiskey.” This is a blend of malted whiskeys produced at various distilleries. Unlike blended scotch, it does not include any grain whiskeys.
While scotch is the most apparent example, the same distinction between single malt and blended whiskey applies anywhere in the world. The biggest factor is how many distilleries played a role in making the whiskey.
To further add to the confusion, you will also find “single-grain whiskey.” These can be made from more than one grain, including barley, corn, or wheat. The word “single” refers, once again, to the distillery, because all of the whiskey will have been made at one location.
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So What Does ‘single Malt’ Mean
Well, much of the confusion with this categorisation stems from the use of the term âSingleâ This does not mean a single grain or single barrel, it simply refers to the fact that the whisky or scotch was produced in a âsingleâ distillery.
There are also three separate stages to the process of making a Single Malt, which also lends to the confusion. First, malt is fermented into a raw beer called a âwash.â This adds fruity and creamy flavours to the malt and makes alcohol. Second, the wash is distilled into a spirit. This attains the alcohol percentage and the desired flavour balance. Thirdly, the spirit is aged in barrels.
There is a common misconception that a Single Malt means single-batch or single-barrel, when in fact there are many whiskies and scotches that are a blend of batches and barrels.
*The term Single Barrel is what is used to characterise a single-batch whisky or scotch that is bottle directly from an individual ageing barrel.
How Is A Consistent Flavor Maintained
Every barrel of whiskey has a unique flavor that was affected by the barrel itself. Vatting hundreds of those barrels together actually gives the distiller more control over how the final product will taste. By following their basic recipe for the types of barrels, and how long each one has aged, they are able to make subtle adjustments to ensure a consistent quality.
As with wine, the environment can have an impact on the way a whiskey tastes. By blending several together, the distiller is able to avoid a change in their products flavor. This is more difficult for single malt producers, who must craft their distinct spirits using multiple independent sources.
As a result, no two individual single malts will ever be exactly the same. Master blenders start with their general recipe, but must rely on highly skilled tasters to achieve a flavor that is as close as possible to the desired result.
After the batch has been completed, tasters are blindly given two glasses of the previous batch, and one of the new. If they are able to discern which one is the new batch, the distiller has not achieved consistency and must try again. Only after the tasters are unable to identify the new blend consistently will the distiller go forward with bottling the final product.
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Other Laws That Help Define Malt Whiskey
While the most important point about malt whiskey is that its made from malted barley there are other laws that it needs to adhere to if its to have that label. Some of these laws are general laws that apply to all whiskeys but nonetheless without complying and being made from malted barley, it cannot be called malt whiskey.
Of course, these laws vary according to country.
Malt whiskey must be made from malt barley and no other grains.
It must be distilled, twice, in pot stills to a maximum of less than 94.8% ABV.
It must be aged for at least three years in new or used oak casks.
No additives are allowed except water and caramel coloring.
It must be bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV.
Ireland has pretty much the same regulations as Scotland, except its malt whiskey is often distilled three times. It also produces something called pot still whiskey, which although its made primarily from malted barley also contains unmalted barley and so cannot be called malt whiskey.
Malt whiskey must contain at least 51% malted barley.
It does not have to be distilled in pot stills. The maximum ABV at distillation is 80%.
It must be aged in new charred oak barrels. If its aged for at least two years, its called straight malt whiskey.
It may not contain any added flavoring, coloring or neutral spirits.
It must be bottled at a maximum of 40% ABV.
There is no maximum limit on the alcohol level at distillation.
They may contain caramel or flavoring.
What Exactly Is A Single Malt Whisky
Its a term heard far and wide, especially in recent years, as the whisky industry continues to boom. Single malt whisky is often associated with Scotland and the whisky made there, yet many are unaware that single malts can be made anywhere in the world. Single malt, single barrel, single cask, single grain. The whisky world enjoys many diverse categories, but the terms can often get confusing. So, lets take a look at the everpopular category of single malt whisky, and define it.
Bottles of award-winning Japanese Suntory Yamazaki single malt whisky, on display at the ‘Whisky … Live Tokyo 2012.
Single malt whisky can and is made anywhere in world. Today, countries like Japan, Taiwan, India, Australia, Sweden, America, Italy, and many others are producing single malt whisky and the World Whisky category is growing more popular by the day. If its a single malt Scotch whisky, well then its made in Scotland, but otherwise it can be made anywhere.
Summary: Single malt means its made at one, and only one distillery.
BANGALORE, INDIA – FEBRUARY 19: Images of Amrut whisky products and single Malt Amrut whiskys … Distilleries at Mysore Road, in Bangalore, India.
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A Common Myth About Whiskeys
Aged whiskey is darker in color: this is a common myth that cannot be further from the truth. Contrary to popular belief, the age of whiskey has little to do with its color.
Dark whiskey has a better aesthetic appeal, sure. But this merely indicates the use of caramel as part of the ingredients or the type of wood barrel used.
Pure Malt Whisky And Its Meaning
* The creation of blended malt as an official designation was almost certainly done to confuse blends of pure malt whisky in the mind of consumers with blended whisky, which can contain up to 90% grain spirits and still be called scotch if it is distilled in Scotland. Blends typically have 40% pure malt whisky mixed with 60% grain whisky, which is considerably less expensive to produce, while also being considerably less flavorful.
** The use of Glenlivet in the previous instance referred to the traditional name for the whisky producing region now called Speyside.
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Fuji Single Grain Whiskey
Most drinks fans are familiar with Kirin through their Kirin Ichiban Shibori beer . Outside Japan, not many know that Kirin is the countrys number three whisky producer, behind Suntory and Nikka. In fact, this is the first review of a Kirin Whisky on Malt Review. Perhaps thats because Fuji Single Grain is the first Kirin Whisky to be exported to the US.
In November 1973, the Fuji Gotemba distillery began production. It was built by Kirin-Seagram, a joint venture established in August 1972 between Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. , JE Seagram and Sons and Chivas Brothers . Its in Gotemba in Shizuoka prefecture. The distillery is 155,000 square metres in size, at an elevation of 620m above sea level, 12 km from the base of Mount Fuji, surrounded by forest, with an average annual temperature of 13C. They make both malt and grain whisky fermentation, distillation, aging, blending, and bottling are performed on-site.
Recently, Kirin Holdings have been under pressure from some of their activist investors to ramp up their beverage business and expand overseas. The whisky side of this has resulted in ¥8bn investment to add four new stills, four new mash tuns and a storehouse that will expand aging capacity by 20%. Most importantly for us consumers, they released new products, the first of which was Fuji Single Grain.
What Exactly Makes A Scotch Single Malt Single Grain Or A Blend
Whisky is a complex spirit. The array of differing classifications and rules that each type of whisky must satisfy means that no two bottles are ever the same. Previously, we have explored the differences between scotch and bourbon, but this time we will be diving deeper into the differing forms in which scotch can come. Scotch whisky can come as a single malt, a single grain and most commonly as a blend. These can often be confusing, and so in this post we will outline what exactly makes a scotch single malt, single grain or a blend.
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Best Overall: Aberlour 16 Year Old
Region: Speyside | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Caramel, Oak, Spice
Aberlour is often overlooked by whisky drinkers here in the US, but undeservedly so. This Speyside distillery has an excellent lineup, with the 16-year-old landing right in the sweet spot of maturation between the 12 and 18, the other two age statement bottles in the range. The whisky is matured in both bourbon and sherry casks for 16 years before being married together and bottled. This provides it with the best of both worldsa rich, oaky structure with some sweet vanilla notes from the lengthy time in bourbon barrels, and ripe fruits and spices from the sherry casks.
Different Types Of Whisky
Grain whisky is made from a variety of grains, such as barley, wheat or maize, and is distilled in a column or reflux still. Think of it as an unfiltered grain vodka thats had a few years maturing in oak. Cheap and easy to make in bulk, youll find it makes up a good portion of blended whiskies, but its unlikely youll find it bottled and on the shelf at your local. Malt whisky, by comparison, is made strictly from malted barley, and is double or triple distilled in a traditional copper pot still. These two types of whisky form the basic building blocks for every whisky on the market.
Once the whisky has matured appropriately , it can be put to use to create a number of different kinds of whisky.
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What Is Single Malt Whiskey Made Of
The word “single” is the most confusing part of single malt whiskey. That it does not mean that the whiskey comes from a single barrel or even from a single batch. Instead, these are typically blends of various barrel-aged whiskeys many single malt whiskeys in the world, regardless of style, are blended in some way.
The fact that single malt scotch is almost always a blend it is quite surprising for most drinkers. For example, the Glenfiddich 18 Single Malt Scotch is a mix of various whiskeys that have been aged in different barrels for at least 18 years. All of these were distilled from malted barley and produced at the Glenfiddich distillery, although some are over 18 years old.
Blending is how master stills are capable of guarantee a homogeneous taste in their whiskey year after year. If you taste one of the distillery’s flagship expressions this year, it should be nearly identical to the one you tasted five years ago. On the other hand, if the distillery relied on a single barrel or batch, the whiskey profile would constantly change and ultimately leave consumers doubtful or even worse, disappointed. Not a bad thing, though the single cask or batch is generally reserved for special collections and the limited edition versions that many distilleries offer.
The one thing that continues to make Scottish single malts stand out is the use of peaty malt, which is also used in mixed scotch.
What Is Blended Malt Whisky
Blended Scotch Malt Whisky combines different Single Malt Scotch Whiskies from two or more distilleries.
Our Tweeddale: The Evolution 28 Year Old is the perfect example of a premium blended Scotch Whisky. Our oldest Tweeddale whisky to date, it is a blend of classic Speyside single malts and a Lowland single grain.
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We Love All Kinds Of Whiskey
Whiskey is a spirit made from grain, distilled at a proof lower than 190 and usually matured in oak casks.
Now onto the different types of whiskey. Here are the ones youll encounter most of the time:
- Bourbon: Whiskey made in America from 51% or more corn, and aged for any amount of time in new, charred, oak barrels.
- Rye: Made just like bourbon, but contains 51% or more of rye.
- Malt Whiskey: Made just like bourbon, but with 51% or more of malted barley as an ingredient.
- Scotch: Whisky made in Scotland from 100% malted barley. Usually aged in used barrels for at least 3 years.
- Irish: Whiskey made in Ireland made from malted barley and other ingredients.
- Canadian: Whiskey made in Canada from any grain and aged in oak for at least 3 years.