Difference Between Single Malt And Blended Whisky

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The process of making whisky involves the following steps: malting, drying, mashing and fermenting, which is followed by distillation and finally, maturation. Whisky is generally categorised into Single and Blended Malt also referred to as double or multiple malt.

Single malt whisky refers to a whisky made of a single malted grain, usually barley, and produced in a single distillery. Single malts are usually associated with Scotch single malt; however, single malt whiskeys are produced in various countries while Scotch single malt is produced in Scotland. Single malt whiskies have won the heart of many whiskey lovers. It is one of the best-selling whiskey types in United States and around the world

The Scotch single malts are the most famous and known for their high quality. Other countries such as Japan, Canada, America, and others also produce equally good single malts that are enjoyed worldwide.To qualify to be labeled as a single malt Scotch whiskey, the spirit must be distilled at a single distillery in Scotland using a pot still distillation process and should be made from malted barley. It also must be matured in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years though most single malts are aged longer.

There’s a common misconception that because a certain whisky is labeled “single malt,” it must be the product of just a single batch or barrel of whisky. Single malt whisky may be a blend of other single malt whiskeys from different barrels of the same distillery. 

Most single malt whiskeys are bottled at 40% alcohol content, but the value can go higher for some. Single malts are usually mellow and superiorly smooth. Aging in oak imparts oaky flavors, vanilla, caramel, and nut notes. Scotch whiskeys have a peaty and smoky character as a result of using peated malt.

There are different types of single malt whiskeys from different whiskey brands. Single grain, single barrel, and single cask are other terms used to describe whiskeys, usually their names defining their constituents.

Examples of single malt whisky:

  • Glenfiddich
  • Singleton Tailfire
  • Aberlour
  • Macallan Terra
  • Glen Grant
  • Talisker Dark Storm
  • Glenmorangie Tayne etc

Blended whisky is a type of whisky produced using a combination of whiskies from different malt and grain distilleries. In other words blended whisky is the product of blending different types of whiskeys and sometimes also neutral grain spirits, colorings, and flavorings. It is generally the product of mixing one or more higher-quality straight or single malt whiskey with less expensive spirits and other ingredients. This typically allows for a lower priced finished product, although expensive “premium” varieties also exist.

Most blended whiskeys do not list an age, although the regulations governing its production in some countries specify a minimum aging requirement. All spirits in a Canadian, Scottish, or Irish whiskey must be aged at least three years, and any age statement refers to the minimum age of the spirits used in the blend. In the United States, the age statement only refers to the minimum age of the straight whiskey — which must comprise at least 20% of the content — used within the blend. As neutral spirits are not considered whiskeys, they do not have to be aged at all for the production of U.S. blended whiskey.

Examples of Blended Whisky Include:

  • Canadian Club
  • Canadian Mist
  • Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • Seagram’s Seven
  • Kessler Whiskey
  • Hibiki
  • Various Scotch whisky blends sold under the Johnnie Walker brand, as well as Chivas Regal and SIA Scotch Whisky.

Also Read: Difference Between John Walker Black Label And Double Black

Single Malt Whisky vs Blended Whisky: Key Differences

Points of ComparisonSingle Malt WhiskyBlended Whisky
DescriptionA single-malt whisky is nothing more or less than the product of a single distillery. Blended whisky is mixture of two or more whiskies that are bottled and sold as one whisky. 
ProcessSingle malt is made from water and malted barley.Blended malt is made with malt whiskey and mixed with grain whiskey.
AgingSingle malt is aged around 3 years.Blended whisky is aged around 5 years.
TasteSingle malt whiskey will likely have a more uniform taste because of its single originBlended whiskeys might mix a variety of flavors.
PopularitySingle malt whisky accounts for a small percentage of whisky purchased world-wide. Blended whisky accounts for a huge percentage of whisky purchased world-wide. 

Key Takeaways

  • A single-malt whisky is nothing more or less than the product of a single distillery. 
  • Blended whisky is a product that contains a mix of barrel-aged malt and grain whiskies. In other words, mixture of two or more whiskies that are bottled and sold as one whisky. 
  • Single malt is made from water and malted barley, whereas blended malt is made with malt whiskey and mixed with grain whiskey.
  • Single malt is aged around 3 years, whereas blended whisky is aged around 5 years.
  • Blended whiskeys combine aged and fermented barley and grain from many different distilleries.
  • Single malt whiskey will likely have a more uniform taste because of its single origin, while blended whiskeys might mix a variety of flavors. Still, there are many more factors that go into a whiskey’s flavor profile; for instance, a spirit that brews or ages in oak casks (or oak barrels) will taste different than one that ages in sherry casks.
  • The term blended whiskey refers to the type of grains being used to produce it. While single malts exclusively use barley, blended whiskey can contain corn, rye and even wheat as their base.
  • Blended whisky accounts for a huge percentage of whisky purchased world-wide. 

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