What sets malt whisky apart from the other type of Scotch whisky is that it is a batch process, not a continuous process like that of grain whisky.
Also when making malt whisky only malted barley can be used, whereas any type of grain, malted or unmalted can be used in the production of grain whisky. Bringing malt whisky together with grain whisky is called blending, and blended Scotch whisky is the largest category of whisky in the World with brands such as Johnnie Walker, Ballantine’s, Grant’s, Chivas Regal, Lauder’s, etc.
Let's find out about two major types of whisky first.
Different types of grains, which can be used to make whisky.
The other ingredient in blended whisky is grain whisky. Generally when making grain whisky, wheat (mostly) or corn is used with the addition of some malted barley (because of the enzymes that can convert starch to sugar).
Grain distilleries (there are seven in Scotland) are much bigger than malt distilleries and more efficient. Because they distill to a higher strength, around 94.5%, more flavours are removed and the grain whisky flavour is lighter than malt whisky.
On the other hand, it tends to mature faster than malt whisky. A standard blended Scotch whisky would usually have a malt to grain ratio of 30 / 70, but this can vary.
It is up to the Master Blender to create the blend, or rather, to keep creating the blend and ensuring it tastes like the previous batch or like it did twenty years ago. Needless to say he has a recipe, but more importantly he must rely on his nose.
While the tongue can detect four primary tastes, sweet, sour, bitter and salty with the addition of umami and hot or cold, the nose can detect 32 primary smells and as such is the most important tool for the blender. But he can not just follow the old recipe blindly, as whiskies change.
Whisky distillery process.
Perhaps a distillery has changed production methods or perhaps it has closed. Perhaps the whisky has matured in central warehouse rather than at the distillery’s Highland or Island location. Perhaps the whisky has matured in first fill sherry casks rather than second fill bourbon barrels or third fill Port pipes… There are so many things a blender must factor in when creating his blended whisky.
THE FIVE WHISKY CATEGORIES
Whisky is actually divided into 5 different categories as follows:
1. Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Lead single malt whiskies.
A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals, and (ii) by batch distillation in pot stills. From 23 November 2012, Single Malt Scotch Whisky must be bottled in Scotland.
2. Single Grain Scotch Whisky
Single grain Scotch whiskies.
A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley with or without whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals, and (ii) which does not comply with the definition of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
3. Blended Scotch Whisky
MacDuff International whiskies are all blended.
A blend of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies with one or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.
4. Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Blended malt Scotch whisky.
A blend of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery.
5. Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
An example of blended grain whisky.
A blend of Single Grain Scotch Whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery.
Purchase blended Scotch whisky in Vietnam HERE.
Source: MacDuff International