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 stillin 1830. Several decades later a number of distillers began mixing grainwhisky with the traditional malt whisky to make a lighter, less pungentand 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, thebarley has not been dried with or flavored with peat smoke.
As with malt whisky, the mash is fermented, but the resultant wash is fedinto a continuous still (potstills are used in single malt distillation), to run off at about 180proof. The new grain whisky, which is colorless, quite bland and almostneutral, is then aged the requisite 3 yrs.
Blended scotches can be made up of as many as 50 individual whiskies invarious proportions to maintain "house" styles. There is no legallyrequired percentage of malt whiskies to grain whiskies, nor do blendersreveal their formulas. Even some super-premium blends contain suprisinglymodest amounts of malt whisky.
Dewars White Label - the largest selling blend in the U.S. Mediumto full-bodied, it has a well balanced palate. Owned by Guiness.
J&B Rare - from Justerini & Brooks (two 18th century Londonwine merchants) is made in the "softtasting" style geared to theU.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 scotchmalt and grain whiskies. A slight sweetness with a smooth well balancedpalate.
Cutty Sark - another English-owned (Berry Brothers and Rudd), mass-producedblend. 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 whiskiesin the foundation malts. Full-bodied and well-balanced, slightly sweet witha nutty, smoky finish.
Johnnie Walker Black Label - the deluxe 12 yr old version, with asimilar character as the Red Label, except substantially more intense inaroma and flavor and contains a greater proportion of malt whiskies. Darkcolored, rich, full, sweet and smoky with a smooth lingering finish.
Haig and Haig Pinch - a fine blended whisky more famous for its dimplebottle than its contents. Aged 12 yrs, it has a smooth, malty taste anda dry finish.
Chivas Regal - has been more successful than any other blended whiskyin creating a luxury image. Medium-bodied, a firm but mellow palate, a hintof smokiness and a sweet finish. Who says it doesn't pay to advertise?
Famous Grouse - medium-bodied, well balanced, slightly peaty witha carmely sweet and smoky finish.
The single malt whiskies are to scotch what chateau-bottled classified growthsare to Bordeaux The highest quality is combined with maximum individualityand distinction. Variables such as type of peat, water, climate, soil, typeof still, aging, cooperage and, the most critical, area in which the distilleryis 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 eastto Grecnock in the west The northeast region of the Highlands is referredto as "Speyside". The river Spey flows through the heart of theHighlands owing much to the character of the single malts produced in thisregion The Highland whiskies include the most well-known such as Macallan,Glenmorangie, Glenlivet, and Aberlour. Covering a spectrum of individualstyles, they are all essentially elegant, quite fragrant, smooth, and rangefrom 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 bythe sea is very evident in single malt's such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, andArdberg 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 primarilyas blending whiskies.
4.Lowlands - South of the Dundee-Greenock line. Lowland whiskiesare 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 scotchwhisky (American whiskey is spelled with an "e" ) l) Must be madein Scotland. 2) Must come from a single distillery. 3)Must be made from100·o malted barley. The malt is first dried on wire screens over peatfires. The peat flavoring imparts a distinctive pungent tang to the maltthat is carried over to the finished whisky. Using local well or springwater, the wort (malted barley and water) is fermented into beer orwash which contains about 10% alcohol. The wash is then double distilledin copper pot-stills and the resultant whisky is colorless, raw and about140 proof.
After distillation, the new whisky goes into previously used oak casks.Old sherry barrels and American bourbon barrels are preferred. A minimumof 3 yrs of wood-aging is mandatory before bottling, but malt whiskies usuallyrequire much longer aging to attain maturity.
Glen Deveron 5 yr - from the Highlands region, this is a niceinexpensive introduction to single malts. Simple and straightforward witha hint of smokiness, this malt whisky is comparable to a nice Scotch blendsuch as Chivas, Johnnie Walker, Dewars and J&B.
Laphroaig lO yr (La-froig) - the best known of theIslay malt whiskies. It is a pungent whisky that combines an oiliness andfullness of body with an intense smoky, peaty and seaweedy character Notfor everyone, especially the novice. "Your first taste of Laphrosigmay be your last!"
Glenlivet 12 yr - from the Highlands region, medium light and delicatewith a trace of sweetness, quite full on the palate. Big name recognitionand very popular.
Glenmorangie 12 yr (Glen-more-angle) port wood finish - from theupper Highlands region north of inverness. This malt whisky is matured inAmerican Oak Casks for about 1O yrs and then racked into selected port casksfor the last few yrs of its maturation. This "finishing" is trulyunique. The malt is the color of antique copper: golden with a rosy hue.A complex balance of sweet and dry flavors, bitter chocolate being offsetby 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 morestandard after dinner drinks.
Balvenie l5yr single barrel - from the Speyside ( northeast) regionof the Highlands. Drawn from a single cask of a single distillation, eachbottling forms a limited edition of no more than 300 hand numbered bottles.Each bottle is unique and unrepeatable. Incredibly smooth and full flavoredwith a slightly sweet aroma. This one stands out, in my opinion, as havingthe most character. Highly, highly recommended! ! !
Macallan 18 yr - from the Highlands, referred to as the "ChateauMargeaux" of mall whiskies Distilled in very small pot-stills and agedentirely in used sherry barrels. Macallan is full-bodied. rich slightlywith a silky aroma of heather and a delightful sherry finish great namerecognition, 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 tocreate a smooth malt with distinct character A delightful, fragrant bouquet,intense complexity, light nuttiness, and a long, lingering finish The onlysingle malt ever to twice win the Gold Medal and Pot Still Trophy at theInternational Wine & Spirit Competition. A very elegant product - connoisseurswill be in heaven because this is were single malts go when they die!