There are two basic types of Scotch whiskey, from which all blends are made:
Single malt Scotch whisky means a Scotch whisky produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by group distillation in pot stills.Single grain Scotch whisky means a Scotch whisky distilled at a single distillery but, in addition to water and malted barley, may involve whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals. “Single grain” does not mean that only a single type of grain was used to manufacture the whisky?quite, the adjective “single” refers only to the use of a single distillery (and making a “single grain” requires using a mixture of grains, as barley is a type of grain and some malted barley must be used in all Scotch whisky). Excluded from the definition of ?single grain Scotch whisky? is any spirit that qualifies as a single malt Scotch whisky or as a blended Scotch whisky. The latter exclusion is to ensure that a blended Scotch whisky formed from single malt and single grain distilled at the same distillery does not also qualify as single grain Scotch whisky.
Three types of blends are defined for Scotch whisky:
Blended malt Scotch whisky means a mix of two or more single malt Scotch whiskies from different distilleries.
Blended grain Scotch whisky means a mix of two or more single grain Scotch whiskies from different distilleries.
Blended Scotch whisky means a mix of one or more single malt Scotch whiskies with one or more single grain Scotch whiskies.Single grain
The majority of grain whisky produced in Scotland goes to make blended Scotch whisky. The average blended whisky is 60%?85% grain whisky. Some higher-quality grain whisky from a single distillery is bottled as single grain whisky.Blended / vatted malt
Blended malt whisky?before called vatted malt or pure malt?is one of the least common types of Scotch: a blend of single malts from more than one distillery (possibly with differing ages). Blended malts contain only malt whiskies?no grain whiskies?and are usually distinguished from other types of whisky by the absence of the word ‘single’ before ‘malt’ on the bottle, and the lack of a distillery name. The age of the vat is that of the youngest of the original ingredients. For example, blended malt marked “8 years old” may include older whiskies, with the youngest constituent being eight years old. Johnnie Walker Green is an example of blended malt. Starting from November 2011 no Scotch whisky could be labelled as a vatted malt or pure malt, the SWR requiring them to be labelled blended malt instead.Blended
Blended Scotch whisky constitutes about 90% of the whisky formed in Scotland. Blended Scotch whiskies contain both malt whisky and grain whisky. They were initially created as an alternative to single malt whiskies, which some considered too harsh. Producers merge a variety of malts and grain whiskies to produce a reliable brand style. Notable blended Scotch whisky brands include Bells, Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker, Whyte and Mackay, Cutty Sark, J&B, The Famous Grouse, Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal.Independent bottlers
Most malt distilleries sell a large amount of whisky by the cask for blending, and sometimes to private buyers as well. Whisky from such casks is sometimes bottled as single malt by independent bottling firms such as Duncan Taylor, Master of Malt, Gordon & MacPhail, Cadenhead’s, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Murray McDavid, Signatory, Douglas Laing, and others. These are usually labelled with the distillery’s name, but not using the distillery’s trademarked logos or typefaces. An “official bottling”, by comparison, is from the distillery. Many independent bottlings are from single casks, and they may sometimes be very different from an official bottling.
For a variety of reasons, some independent brands do not recognize which facility distilled the whisky in the bottle. They may instead identify only the general geographical area of the source, or they simply market the product using their own brand name without identifying their source. This may, in some cases, be simply to give the independent bottling company the flexibility to purchase from multiple distillers without changing their labels.
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