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The Art of the Blend

Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Dewar’s, Ballantine’s, the Famous Grouse…one or more of these labels generally takes up residence in the typical home bar, and all are blends, a style of Scotch whisky that stands separate from single malts. In fact, fully 90 per cent of Scotch whisky sold today is a blend. Here’s why.

What Is Blended Scotch Whisky?

Let’s start by understanding how this limb of the Scotch family tree differs from single malts. In simplest terms, single malt whiskies are distilled exclusively from malted barley and produced by a sole distillery. By comparison, blends are the combination of possibly dozens of malted and grain whiskies from a number of different distilleries. 

 

The Blending Process

Credit the art of blending, that act of finding just the right proportions to create a worthy whisky, to a gentleman by the name of Andrew Usher, who advanced the process in the mid-1850s. His focus on consistency, balance and smoothness — something more formidable malts of the era didn’t necessarily deliver — helped blended Scotch whisky take its great leap forward.  Today that responsibility falls on Master Blenders. Their art is a balancing act, drawing together anywhere from two to 50-plus single whiskies and weaving together the many influences that will play into the overall taste profile

 

Misconceptions about Blends

It’s hard to compete with the prestige of single malts when the various distilleries and Scotch regions lend themselves to such perfect packaging and marketing. So for some connoisseurs, blends automatically assume second-class status. This is despite the fact that blends use whiskies from many of these famed single malt distilleries. True, blends’ production methods include grain whisky, which is more economical to produce. But is it inferior as a result? We think not. Take a closer sip and see for yourself.

 

What Blending Adds to Flavour

Blends may not have the depth or robust qualities of single malts, but they are intended to be lighter whiskies. Their true character shines through in their complexity. Blends also offer a variety of tastes, ranging from bold to elegant to delicate and all stops in-between. That they are more affordable means they are also the go-to choice for those who enjoy their whisky in a cocktail.


FEATURED BLENDS

 

Scallywag Speyside Blended Malt Whisky

This tantalizing small-batch blend of Speyside whiskies features Macallan, Glenrothes and Mortlach.  A nudge towards sweetness off the top unveils into something altogether more complex, with nutmeg, spice and cinnamon framing rich vanilla and sherry flavours.

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Rock Oyster Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

Whiskies from the islands of Orkney, Islay, Jura and Arran find common ground in this exciting blend. The enticing notes of sea spray, spice, vanilla, pepper and peat smoke reveal a compelling taste of coastal magic.

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Chivas Royal Salute

First produced to honour the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, this supple blend of malt and grain whiskies has been aged for 21 years and delivers a beautifully poised dram. It combines nimble touches of dried fruit, nut, spice and leather that linger.

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