Liquor & Spirits
BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY
Blended scotches are a mixture of malt and grain whiskies. Grain whisky,
a bland spirit, came into being with the invention of a continuous still
in 1830. Several decades later a number of distillers began mixing grain
whisky with the traditional malt whisky to make a lighter, less pungent
and inexpensive scotch whisky
Grain whisky is made from a mash of several grains - predominately corn
- with small amounts of malted and unmelted barley. In this instance, the
barley has not been dried with or flavored with peat smoke.
As with malt whisky, the mash is fermented, but the resultant wash is fed
into a continuous still (pot
stills are used in single malt distillation), to run off at about 180
proof. The new grain whisky, which is colorless, quite bland and almost
neutral, is then aged the requisite 3 yrs.
Blended scotches can be made up of as many as 50 individual whiskies in
various proportions to maintain "house" styles. There is no legally
required percentage of malt whiskies to grain whiskies, nor do blenders
reveal their formulas. Even some super-premium blends contain suprisingly
modest amounts of malt whisky.
Dewars White Label - the largest selling blend in the U.S. Medium
to full-bodied, it has a well balanced palate. Owned by Guiness.
J&B Rare - from Justerini & Brooks (two 18th century London
wine merchants) is made in the "softtasting" style geared to the
U.S. market. It has a low proportion of malt whiskies, is mass produced,
and is anything but rare.
J&B J.E.T. - a 12 yr old blend crafted from 40 individual scotch
malt and grain whiskies. A slight sweetness with a smooth well balanced
Cutty Sark - another English-owned (Berry Brothers and Rudd), mass-produced
blend. Of the two soft styled blends, it is arguably fruitier and more flavorful.
Johnnie Walker Red Label - the largest selling whisky in the world.
It is one of the finest blends using both Talisker and Cardhu malt whiskies
in the foundation malts. Full-bodied and well-balanced, slightly sweet with
a nutty, smoky finish.
Johnnie Walker Black Label - the deluxe 12 yr old version, with a
similar character as the Red Label, except substantially more intense in
aroma and flavor and contains a greater proportion of malt whiskies. Dark
colored, rich, full, sweet and smoky with a smooth lingering finish.
Haig and Haig Pinch - a fine blended whisky more famous for its dimple
bottle than its contents. Aged 12 yrs, it has a smooth, malty taste and
a dry finish.
Chivas Regal - has been more successful than any other blended whisky
in creating a luxury image. Medium-bodied, a firm but mellow palate, a hint
of smokiness and a sweet finish. Who says it doesn't pay to advertise?
Famous Grouse - medium-bodied, well balanced, slightly peaty with
a carmely sweet and smoky finish.
The single malt whiskies are to scotch what chateau-bottled classified growths
are to Bordeaux The highest quality is combined with maximum individuality
and distinction. Variables such as type of peat, water, climate, soil, type
of still, aging, cooperage and, the most critical, area in which the distillery
is located, are all determining factors in the production of single malts.
Malt whiskies are produced in four distinct regions of Scotland:
l.The Highlands - North of an imaginary line from Dundec in thc east
to Grecnock in the west The northeast region of the Highlands is referred
to as "Speyside". The river Spey flows through the heart of the
Highlands owing much to the character of the single malts produced in this
region The Highland whiskies include the most well-known such as Macallan,
Glenmorangie, Glenlivet, and Aberlour. Covering a spectrum of individual
styles, they are all essentially elegant, quite fragrant, smooth, and range
from penetrating and complex (Aberlour) to an almost flowery delicacy (Macallan).
2.Islay (Eye-la) - The most southerly of Scotland's westem isles,
it is racked by the torrential sea and it's salty air. This intrusion by
the sea is very evident in single malt's such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and
Ardberg which are forthright, salty, peaty and pungent.
3.Campbeltown - On the Kintyre peninsula in southwestern Scotland.
With certain exceptions such as Springbank, Campbeltown malts are used primarily
as blending whiskies.
4.Lowlands - South of the Dundee-Greenock line. Lowland whiskies
are called fillers and used in blends.
The sole ingredient of malt whisky is malted (sprouted) barley. In fact,
3 things must be true in order to be classified as a single malt scotch
whisky (American whiskey is spelled with an "e" ) l) Must be made
in Scotland. 2) Must come from a single distillery. 3)Must be made from
100·o malted barley. The malt is first dried on wire screens over peat
fires. The peat flavoring imparts a distinctive pungent tang to the malt
that is carried over to the finished whisky. Using local well or spring
water, the wort (malted barley and water) is fermented into beer or
wash which contains about 10% alcohol. The wash is then double distilled
in copper pot-stills and the resultant whisky is colorless, raw and about
After distillation, the new whisky goes into previously used oak casks.
Old sherry barrels and American bourbon barrels are preferred. A minimum
of 3 yrs of wood-aging is mandatory before bottling, but malt whiskies usually
require much longer aging to attain maturity.
Glen Deveron 5 yr - from the Highlands region, this is a nice
inexpensive introduction to single malts. Simple and straightforward with
a hint of smokiness, this malt whisky is comparable to a nice Scotch blend
such as Chivas, Johnnie Walker, Dewars and J&B.
Laphroaig lO yr (La-froig) - the best known of the
Islay malt whiskies. It is a pungent whisky that combines an oiliness and
fullness of body with an intense smoky, peaty and seaweedy character Not
for everyone, especially the novice. "Your first taste of Laphrosig
may be your last!"
Glenlivet 12 yr - from the Highlands region, medium light and delicate
with a trace of sweetness, quite full on the palate. Big name recognition
and very popular.
Glenmorangie 12 yr (Glen-more-angle) port wood finish - from the
upper Highlands region north of inverness. This malt whisky is matured in
American Oak Casks for about 1O yrs and then racked into selected port casks
for the last few yrs of its maturation. This "finishing" is truly
unique. The malt is the color of antique copper: golden with a rosy hue.
A complex balance of sweet and dry flavors, bitter chocolate being offset
by a fresh minty note. Hints of port and walnut are evident in the finish.
Voluptuously smooth and velvety on the palate - a nice alternative to more
standard after dinner drinks.
Balvenie l5yr single barrel - from the Speyside ( northeast) region
of the Highlands. Drawn from a single cask of a single distillation, each
bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 300 hand numbered bottles.
Each bottle is unique and unrepeatable. Incredibly smooth and full flavored
with a slightly sweet aroma. This one stands out, in my opinion, as having
the most character. Highly, highly recommended! ! !
Macallan 18 yr - from the Highlands, referred to as the "Chateau
Margeaux" of mall whiskies Distilled in very small pot-stills and aged
entirely in used sherry barrels. Macallan is full-bodied. rich slightly
with a silky aroma of heather and a delightful sherry finish great name
recognition, you won't go wrong recommending this one !
Aberlour 21 yr (Ab-you-lure) - From the Speyside region of the Highlands.
A dark, rich, subtly sweet malt, matured exclusively in Sherry casks to
create a smooth malt with distinct character A delightful, fragrant bouquet,
intense complexity, light nuttiness, and a long, lingering finish The only
single malt ever to twice win the Gold Medal and Pot Still Trophy at the
International Wine & Spirit Competition. A very elegant product - connoisseurs
will be in heaven because this is were single malts go when they die!