There has been a long ongoing debate about a new classification of Whisky.
I say. why not keep it simple?
By simply changing "vatted" to "MIXED" you can actually keep everything the way it used to be!
So once again, here is my proposal for classification of Whisky
PLEASE GIVE ME SOME FEEDBACK ON THIS!
I agree that "blended malt" is not a very good idea´, but I am with Christian on this - mixed does not sound good in my ears, sounds cheap, industrial, like instant cakemix etc.
After all, if we can get SWA to change their minds from "blended" to "mixed", we should be able to get them to change it to something other.
How about making bottlers declare the number of malts gone into a bottle ? like single malt, double malt, tripple malt, etc.
Or would that make the general public think, the higher number, the better malt ? (Oooh a tripple malt! Let's buy that one instead of that measly single one..)
I would suggest these as allowable labeling:
For single malts: either
Single Malt Whisky
Only from the Glen Googly Distillery
For vatted malts: either
Vatted Malt Whisky
Vatted product of --- distilleries
where --- may be any expression that clearly expresses plurality--several, many, two, a selection of Scotland's finest.
yes the topic is somewhat worn down and yes the likes like Diageo keep it alive.
To me tradition and common usage suggests the use of grain whiskies in a blend. Therefore I would say that the term "blended malt" instead of "vatted" or "pure malt" is unfortunate. And here is the key to the problem.
"Mixed" sounds strange even if it clears things up the way you propose it.
"Pure malt" could be the right expression vor a blend of malts e.g. a vatted. But only if that term would be reserved for that category alone and would vanish from the labels of single malts.
It is not the a problem of the terms used but a problem of their inconsistant usage.
It would be clear if the terms would be used strictly in a way like this.
single malt = in the bottles is only malt from one distillery, the term "pure" is no longer used on the labels.
pure malt = in the bottles is only malt but from different distilleries, the term "vatted" is no longer used on the labels.
blended whisky = in the bottles are different single malts and grains. The term "vatted" is not used on the labels
single grain = in the bottles is only grain whisky from one distillery.
pure grain = in the bottles is only grain but from different distilleries.
In this system the term "vatted" would be only confusing and actually it currently is, because a vatting can be a pure malt or a blend. Vatting does not define a distinction between the two. It would seem that by omitting one ambiguous term and by using the other terms in a more strict sense things could be cleared up and no new terms would be needed.
What about it, SWA?
For the purposes of defining a category of whisky (and bearing in mind the term must be easily translated into other languages, including non-European languages, to avoid confusing customers) then "blended malt" seems fine to me.
But maybe there should be a sub-classification, where labels are further categorised:
This would save me a lot of time and money!!!
This is, as we all know, rubbish. A good blend is far better than most single malts, and vatted malts can vary from the excellent to the cheap dross where each malt tries to hide the others.
Why not have single malt, single grain, with blended to apply to everything that is a mixture of more than one other whisky - whether or not those whiskies are malts or grains?
Incidentally, you may ask when a blend is not a blend. The answer seems to be when it is "Ardbeg Serendipity" - now advertized not only in Oddbins but also on the RMW website.
A good blend is far better than most single malts,
Them's fighting words!
It's a fairly subjective statement too. Personally, I don't think there are too many "good blends" out there, and I'll take a single malt any day, thank you.
Malt whisky tastes like malt whisky, and grain whisky tastes like grain whisky. So if you don't like the taste of grain whisky, then chances are, you're not going to enjoy blends as much as you enjoy single malts!
Nick IMO single malt is all about individuality. Grains are all about cheapness, taste is not so very much the key issue. Blends are there to level individuality and vatted malts dampen the individuality but far less than a blend does.
If you follow that argumentative line then there is a graduent of quality as well. A single malt is the result of the art knowledge and skill of one distillery, one still man, one master mind.
As much as I want to know if I drink an OB or the bottling of an IB I want to know how "pure" in the sense of how individual a whisky is.
I will not deny that there are very good blends around and very let´s say doubtable single malts as well. But the attempted Cardhu coup did show that misuse is readily possible in the existing system.
Another confusing issue is that it depends on what kind of guideline you use in the attempt to define anything. If you take "individuality" like I did you will come to quite different conclusions. Your post seems to imply to me that the implicit guideline you used was "taste". Perfectly all right with me but you end up somewhere different and farther away from my standing point. No problem with that either.
As it happens, I don't think being the product of a single distillery or a single master distiller is a guarantee of quality. A bad distillery, a bad distiller or bad casks will lead to bad whisky. Reviews of products from, for example, Littlemill, Dufftown, Deanston, North Port, Tormore, Pittyvaich, etc. suggest there can be some really ropey stuff on offer.
I also don't agree that grain whisky is just about cutting costs. Grain whisky has its own range of flavours and having sampled a few (and only a few), I can vouch for the quality that can come with a grain. Grain whisky can add another dimension to a blend that malts alone could not offer. Sure, there is a wish to generate consistency within a brand over time, but isn't the same true of single malts, which are usually a mixture of different vintages from the one distillery - often with very different profiles. The trick is using the ingredients to create the complexity and balance. The fact that there are some really cheap and nasty blends out there does not mean that all blends are cheap and nasty.
If you define quality to mean individuality, then of course you will always conclude that single malts are higher quality than blends. But this is a rather circular argument. I would rather judge quality on the flavour and it seems odd to me that anyone would want to judge quality on anything else.
hello Nick here we go. I do not mean to say that if you take away individuality yout take away quality. Therefore as I do not mix these two terms I do not say that a blend or a pure malt per se is inferior quality. So I do explicitly not argue that the quality in a blend or pure malt deteriorates in proportion to the number of the whiskies used in making it.
Individuality does not in itself define quality. As semantic categories they do not mix. I do not take "quality" which is a very subjective value as we have already discussed so well and often as a guideline.
The gradient I was talking about which follows the guideline "individuality" falls from single malt to pure malt to blend. It does that for the grains, too. It has nothing to do with quality whatsoever.
A single malt itself is not of higher quality than a pure malt or a blend just because it is a single malt.
A single malt is just more individual (and therefore more easily assessed for its merrits and yes, quality on its own without influence).
In that sense the single barrel cask strength bottling is the highest level of individuality blends are at the other end of the scale. That is not a quality statement from me.
What you say about grains is true. For themselfes they can show the same individuality as single malts. In a blend the grains are the weakest link and their individuality is most easily lost in the blended whisky. I do not speak of the quality of grains as such here.
As to judging quality on the flavour of a whisky we come back to the nasty problem of individual taste and the lack of a objective quality rating system that could suit all of us whisky lovers. Fine chemical analysis would give as objective data, yes but it can never describe the whisky experience.
Or, in short, I do not make a quality statement or rating when I try to describe different kinds of whiskies by their individuality.
....unless I have to!
I'm about to empty a bottle of Famous Grouse - but it has been used to make "Irish/Scottish Coffee" . I don't drink the stuff on its own.
Edit: I did drink a few bottles of Chivas Regal during the 80's and I was quite fond of that one. Not so good memories of Ballantine's and Johnny Walker though.
I find Teachers very delicate - you have to look for the flavours - but there are many and the taste profile changes considerably from first sip to the long finish. Black Bottle manages to mix the peatiness of Islay with the fruity softness of Bruichladdich/Bunnahabhain in a more successful way than any of the other whiskies I have tried. Neither flavour tries to drown the other, and they complement rather than compete with one another. It is both peaty and mellow.
I have also enjoyed JW Red and White Horse, but a long time ago. I don't get BNJ, but perhaps it is just because I haven't had it from the right glass.
Try Adelphi private stock Loyal Old Mature Scotch, it's a nice blend, just a little hard to find.
peaty, fruity with a medium long finish with some wood and fruit
the JW gold label and the Black bottle 10 Y are other scotch blends I like.
Jameson's makes also nice blended whiskey's.
But, treat yourself with a bottle of adelphi private stock you'll like it for sure
However, my guess would be that Scottish distillers use the best malt whiskys in single malt for economic reasons. If distillers set out to make a great blended scotch whisky, I'd say they could easily be successful.
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