You have probably heard of blended whiskey before, or seen it in a liquor store (side note: my New England relatives call them, ‘package stores,’ or, ‘packies,’ and I think that’s adorable) but have you ever been brave enough to try one? Do you know what they are? Here’s a quick break down.
Blended whiskeys are… exactly what the name implies. They are more than one type of whiskey mixed together in a consistent recipe for the ultimate deliciousness. But why not just drink regular whiskey?
Well, blended whiskeys are used to bring that regular whiskey goodness to the masses. They’re cheaper than full-bodied whiskeys because they can be produced by combining the leftover ends of a bunch of different whiskey batches, or combining a high value whiskey with other, cheaper forms of grain alcohol. Johnnie Walker, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and Monkey Shoulder from Scotland are all popular brands of blended whiskey.
Because of this, blended whiskeys are great for people just starting their path down the whiskey or bourbon trail. If they’re learning to like that oft-times strong flavor, a cheaper bottle won’t go amiss.
And before you panic and think that blended whiskeys equal less of that drink you love so much, remember this. Every country that cares about whiskey (the United States, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada) have certain regulations and rules set in place before something can qualify as a blended whiskey. You aren’t going to buy a 32 oz. bottle and find that it’s all olive juice with a single shot of well whiskey in it. In the United States, for example, something labeled blended whiskey must have at least 20% straight whiskey in it. And if it’s more than 51% a single type of grain, it’s required to be labeled with that grain, i.e. “Blended Rye Whiskey.”
If there is less than 20% straight whiskey, those are called, “spirit whiskeys.” They usually contain some other sort of spirit or alcohol in them, so they’ll still give you a good buzz. But they might not have the flavor that you’re looking for. Spirit whiskeys are, however, required to have at least 5% straight whiskey in them. That’s the bare minimum.
Most of the time when you order a cocktail that includes some sort of whiskey in it at a bar or restaurant, they will use a blended whiskey, like those listed above. The Old Fashioned is a fine example of this. Obviously, this is because it is far more economical. But it also guarantees that you still get the same great burn and flavor of your favorite malt. For other examples, check out this list we found over at DrinksMixer.com. It contains some of our other favorite blended whiskey cocktails, like:
- Whiskey Sour
- Perfect Manhatten
- Hawaiian Stone Sour
- and a delicious-looking thing called a Bill Leaves Town. We don’t know who Bill is, but we’re definitely trying that one next time he leaves town!