“Well designed blends are a true delight and well worth your attention…”
I had a customer in the shop not so long ago and he came in with a certain air ……he first statement was: I don’t want any blends, because they are rubbish…
How un-true! was my thought…..
I have to admit that my personal preference leans toward single malts because I really like the individuality of a particular distillery….a single malt being a whisky from one source, or more accurately from one distillery. As with any product of nature, and whisky is no different, there are great variances. Even with batches that are distilled the same time, maturing in similar oak. Even next to each other in the same warehouse….how wonderful…
A blend is an amalgamation of different components: single malts and industrially produced grain spirit, distilled in a continuous column process. Unlike the single malt varieties, which use solely malted barley, the grain variety can use any type of cereal to produce spirit. I emphasize sprits because new spirit becomes whisky only after it has been matured in oak for a minimum of three years.
This means that all the spirit components in a blend, have evolved by maturation, into whisky. If they want to be categorized as Scottish whisky, they must also contain at least 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) and…. have matured their entire life in Scotland.
In days gone by, distilling was not such a precise art as our modern computer technology has created. However the true craftsmanship still prevails and is the essence of any signature of a distillery both in taste and flavor.
Blends evolved because much of the original distilled product had a kind of harshness. The merchants who bought the different batches of this whisky, experimented and mixed the best components of one whisky with another to create (or build) their blend in order to make it more palatable.
There is a great selection of blends available, many of which you will know. For most people the ‘blend’ was their first introduction to whisky. Many of the cheaper blends use a lot of grain as a ‘filler’, for bulking up the whisky. Most but are used as soon as they reach the end of the compulsory three year maturation and never see their fourth year.
We have to remember that 85% of all whisky consumed is in a blended form, handed down from grandfather, to father and son and in many countries there was no choice - blended Scotch was the only thing readily available. Even in this country we drank blends for a long time, because not much else was available.
My point in this long intro: A blend is a building block, like a foundation in a house. If you use poor concrete, untreated timber and sloppy craftsmanship, the end result cannot be great.
If you look outside of the main stream (with a few exceptions) you will find true craftsmanship in the creating of fine blends. Or what a chef would say: a dish is only as good as the ingredients you put into it……how true..
The craft of blending lies in the finding the right mix, using superior single malts and well aged grain…brought together in harmony…a dance on your tongue, a sparkle in your brain. Well designed blends are a true delight and well worth your attention.
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