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A Quick Introduction to the Basics

A quick introduction to the world of whiskies and how they are classified:

The difference between ‘whisky’ and ‘whiskey’ is purely a regional one, much in the same way between the words “colour” and “color”.    We therefore, for example, have Scottish Whisky and Irish Whiskey.   We’re going to use ‘whisky’ for the rest of this article, seeing as we specialise in single malt Scotch whiskies.

Malt whisky is made primarily from malted barley.

Grain whisky is made from any type of grains.

Malts and grains are combined in various ways:

Single malt whisky is whisky from a single distillery made from a mash that uses only one particular malted grain. Unless the whisky is described as single-cask, it contains whisky from many casks, and different years, so the blender can achieve a taste recognisable as typical of the distillery. In most cases, single malts bear the name of the distillery, with an age statement and perhaps some indication of some special treatments such as maturation in a port wine cask.

Blended malt whisky is a mixture of single malt whiskies from different distilleries. If a whisky is labelled “pure malt” or just “malt” it is almost certainly a blended malt whisky. This was formerly called a “vatted malt” whisky.

Blended whisky is made from a mixture of different types of whisky. A blend may contain whisky from many distilleries so that the blender can produce a flavour consistent with the brand. The brand name may, therefore, omit the name of a distillery. Most Scottish, Irish and Canadian whisky is sold as part of a blend, even when the spirits are the product of one distillery, as is common in Canada.  American blended whisky may contain neutral spirits.

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