What is Blended Scotch Whisky?

What is Blended Scotch Whisky - Bond Store
Blends are the most popular type of whisky. But what exactly is a blended scotch whisky?


What is blended Scotch Whisky?

Blended Scotch whisky is the name given to a mixture of various whiskies made in Scotland. This means that, unlike single malt, the whisky does not just come from one distillery; however is combined from up to fifty or even more various selections from various producers. Relatively neutral-tasting grain whisky may be utilized for whisky blends. The specific blending ratio is not made public by the bottlers as well as differs from producer to producer. It can be assumed that lower-priced blends have more cheap grain whisky than extra expensive bottlings. A unique kind of a blend is a combined malt, in which only malt whiskies are mixed, and no grain whisky is contained.

Grain Whisky in blends

While single malts may only be made from malted barley, other types of grain can also be distilled and used for blended whiskies to make so-called grain whisky. Grain whisky does not have to be distilled in pot stills but is usually distilled in efficient column stills. The big advantage of this procedure is, besides the consistent taste, the lower price of the finished whisky. Thus, wheat or other grains are often used for the production of blended whisky, as they are cheaper than barley.

Theoretically, any grain can be used for production. For example, American bourbon whiskey (which is traditionally almost always a blend) is often distilled using rye or corn, but sometimes also barley (the mash for bourbon whiskey must consist of at least 51% corn. Common to both grain whisky and malt whisky is that they must have matured in oak casks for at least three years before bottling. Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry barrels are mainly used for this purpose. Without the minimum storage period, they may not be called Scotch whisky. For Bourbon whiskey, a minimum storage period of 2 years in fresh oak barrels applies.

Often uniform taste: blended whiskies

The major disadvantage of industrial blended whiskey production is that the products often serve the unified taste of the mass. In particular, cheaper blends often have little character and a lower depth of taste than solid single malts. In the worst case, they even taste spooky, bitter, and one-dimensional.

However, there are also large quality differences in blended whiskeys, which mainly result from the original whiskeys used and time the whiskey is stored. When blending, the distiller first selects some whiskeys that are to be used in larger quantities. These selected varieties form the basis of the blended whiskey. They are also known as lead whiskeys. If one of these varieties should “fail”, at least one comparable whiskey is available to ensure constant production. Other whiskeys are only used in smaller quantities for the further development and development of the taste. For example, smoky or peaty whiskeys can add interesting notes to the final blend. However, blended Scotch whiskies always contain whiskies made exclusively in Scotland.

Blends for delicious long drinks and cocktails

Blends are made up of a variety of whiskies from different distilleries and therefore offer a consistent taste. Their comparatively lower price has made them affordable for the masses. And so today, about 90% of the whisky worldwide is enjoyed as a blend. Especially for cocktails and long drinks, such as the well-known Whisky Sour, the beginner blends from Johnnie Walker, Ballantine’s, Dewars, or Chivas Regal are especially suitable and a very good addition to the well-equipped house bar. Better blended whiskies can also be enjoyed pure or “on the rocks” in a tumbler glass.

The disadvantage of whisky on the rocks is that the drink is relatively quickly watered down by the melting ice cubes. For those who want to prevent this, cooling stones for whisky are a good choice. These consist of granite, soapstone, or stainless steel and cool the whisky reliably without diluting it.

Well-known whisky blend brands at a glance

Many blended whiskies have now become very popular; they are no longer only available in specialist shops, but can even be found in some well-stocked supermarkets. A convenient selection and delivery can also be found online. Some well-known blend brands are, for example Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Dewar’s, Ballantines or Monkey Shoulder. In this overview, I would like to introduce some of the best known and most popular blended whiskies.

Chivas Regal 12 years Blended Scotch Whisky

What is Blended Scotch Whisky - Chivas Regal 12
Chivas Regal is one of the most traditional Scottish blends.

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Scotch 750ml – $24.99 from NapaCabs

The whiskies of this mix from Chivas Regal have likewise been matured for at the very least 12 years in oak barrels, utilizing a selection of whiskies from various distilleries. As normal with blends, it is not disclosed specifically which distillery the whisky comes from, yet at Chivas Regal, the Strathisla distillery is claimed to play a significant function.

Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky

What is Blended Scotch Whisky - Monkey Shoulder
The Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt is blended from three different Speyside whiskies.

Monkey Shoulder Triple Malt Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml – $31.99 from NapaCabs

The whisky brand name Monkey Shoulder with the particular three apes on the bottle is a combined malt whisky. Three whiskies of different distilleries from the Speyside are mixed. The Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt has no age sign on the tag. However, the whiskies have been matured in oak barrels for at the very least three years, some of those most likely a lot longer.

Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky

What is Blended Scotch Whisky - Johnnie Walker Black Label
Johnnie Walker is one of the best selling blends worldwide. The Black Label is suitable for pure pleasure and also for mixing.

Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old Blended Scotch 750ml – $31.99 from NapaCabs

Without a doubt, Johnnie Walker is one of the world’s most famous and most drunk blended whiskies, with the brand’s various bottlings, each having a different label color. The standard bottling of Johnnie Walker is the solid Red Label. A small upgrade to the Red Label is the Johnnie Walker Black Label, which already offers a little more taste and complexity. In taste, this blend is rather mild with floral and fruity notes, but also some oak and grain, so the “black Johnnie” is suitable for pure enjoyment “on the rocks” as well as for mixing in delicious drinks.

Dewar’s 12 years Blended Scotch Whisky

Dewar's 12
The Dewar’s matures for at least 12 years in oak barrels and is closely associated with Aberfeldy.

Dewar’s 12 Year Old The Ancestor Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml – $19.99 from NapaCabs

Behind Dewar’s is Aberfeldy, a whisky distillery which, for example, has been producing a relatively well-known single malt whisky for 12 years. The biggest part of the whisky produced in this Highland distillery is used for the Dewar’s blend to about 97 %. At around 65%, the Dewar’s 12 years is said to contain a relatively high proportion of single malt, with the remaining 35% made up of grain whiskies. In smell and taste, this blend, aged in oak barrels for at least 12 years, offers fruity as well as grainy notes and is overall well balanced.


Want to read more about whisky?

Check out these articles:
What is Bourbon Whiskey?

How to make Whisky.

What is Single Malt Scotch Whisky?

Whiskey or whisky – what is the difference?

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