What Differentiates Single Malt from Blended Scotch
Not every whiskey is called Scotch; the name itself suggests that it is region-specific. You can make whiskey the world over, but you can never call it Scotch, unless it is made in Scotland. The basic difference between a single malt and blended Scotch is the distillation process. Single malt whisky is produced and bottled in a single distillery, whereas blended, as the name suggests, is a blend of two or more malt and grain whiskies. Let's dig into the details that follow.
The Making of Scotch: The basic ingredient of Scotch whisky happens to be malted barley. Though at times it can be prepared using rye or wheat, barley is the most preferred grain for producing Scotch. Other than barley, the other ingredients include water, yeast and an additive for coloring.
Before we get to the differences, a little insight into the actual process of producing Scotch would be helpful. So here goes ...
|Parameters||Single Malt||Blended Scotch|
|Defining Factors||A single malt whisky is that which is made from water and malted barley, and is distilled at a single distillery.||A blended Scotch whisky is called so when a malt whisky is mixed with grain whisky.|
|What it Actually Means||Confusion rules when we say single malt; what it actually refers to is a single producer or distillery. However, the end product need not necessarily be a single malt but is a perfect blend of malts of varying ages, such that the consistency of the product is maintained.||A blended Scotch can also imply a blend or mixture of 2/3 parts of grain whisky and 1/3 part of malt whisky, not necessarily from the same distillery. A blended Scotch whisky may contain a combination of whiskies from more than 40 to 50 different malt and grain distilleries.|
|Differentiating Factor||Single malt whisky goes through a single batch production; however, the product is a result of a blend of different aged whisky. The taste differs according to the region and distillery whence the final product comes, and the best part is that no two whiskies will ever taste the same. The minimum period for maturation is three years, and the longer the malt is allowed to mature in its wooden abode, the better the final outcome will be. It is not difficult to find a Scotch which has undergone maturation for 15 or more years.||The blending takes place in the presence of a master blender, who ensures the taste of the blend remains consistent throughout. What actually happens in a blended Scotch is that the master blender, samples various malts and grain whiskies and combines them together in a cask and leaves it to mature. The differentiating factor comes in only at the stage of casking, the resultant blend is then left to mature for a minimum period of five years. Apparently, blended Scotch consists of over 90% of the total whisky production in Scotland.|
|Test the Taste Buds||Known for its character and distinct flavor, the single malt Scotch offers an absolute treat to the senses, while keeping you as close to earthiness as possible.||Compared to single malt, it is less stronger and has a more pleasing flavor than the two. However, they lack the flavor and character as the single malt.|
|Cost||Highly priced and a connoisseur's pride, the price of single malt ranges as per the maturation period of the malt.||As its major ingredient is grain whisky, it makes this variety less pricey and affordable for the general crowd.|