People talk a lot about single malt, so it must be something pretty fancy, right? Here’s the low-down on single malt scotch, whiskey, and everything in between.
What Is It?
Sorry to ruin the mystery. But single malt is just whiskey made in a single distillery with malted grain (as opposed to unmalted grain). This is opposed to blended whiskey, which is a a combination of multiple whiskeys, sometimes made from the same distillery, sometimes made from multuples. Yep. That’s it. Not very exciting is it? Historically speaking, this malted grain is usually barley, but in the United States, it could be just about anything (and is usually rye).
Single malt scotch is single malt whiskey that’s… wait for it… made in Scotland.
Why We Love It
The entire production of single malt goes into refining and perfecting a single flavor. Where blended whiskeys are complex, layered, and sometimes very intense, single malts are sheer perfection created with the most care. It takes a lot of effort, skill, time, and patience to make the perfect single malt. But leave all those things up to the distillers. You? You just get to enjoy the whiskey.
Single Malt vs. Blended
Of course, that doesn’t make them better than blended. Contrary to what many whiskey snobs of this day and age believe, there is no quality difference between single malt and blended whiskeys. It’s just a preference of taste. So if someone gives you crap for liking one over the other, tell them to pour themselves something strong and leave you alone. It’s just snobbery.
Calling it, ‘single malt,’ makes it sound exclusive and limited. But when you think about it, many blended whiskeys (such as one of our favorites, Monkey Shoulder) are just a bunch of single malts mixed together. There’s a myth out there that blended whiskeys come from less malts. That’s not actually the case, so don’t be fooled. So if you consider all these single malts to be refined, delicious, and high-class, why shouldn’t mixing them together give you the same pleasure?
Again, it’s only a matter of taste. For us here at WhiskeyMade, we believe all whiskey is beautiful in its own way and each has a time and a place. And we think that Neil Ridley, the author of Let Me Tell You About Whiskey, put it best:
“You wouldn’t wear a three piece suit to a beach party, would you?”
Our Favorite Single Malts
1. AnCnoc Cutter Highland from Knockdhu Distillery, Scotland
2. Celt from Penderyn Distillery, Wales
3. Glenfiddich 12 Year from Glenfiddich Distiller, Scotland
4. Johnnie Walker Blue from Johnnie Walker in Scotland
5. Hakushu 12 Year from Suntory, Japan.