Blended and Single Malt

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Many people are confused about the difference between blended whiskey and single malt whiskey. The explanation below shows there isn’t much to it. In my opinion, single malts have a more unique character, more complexity and flavor. Others argue they exhibit a little less refinement, are a little harsher, you decide for yourself.


Blended whiskey is produced by mixing, usually, at least one, more expensive single malt whiskey with less expensive spirits and other ingredients. Sometimes this will include a neutral grain spirit, colorings (caramel), and flavorings. This allows for a generally lower priced finished product, though plenty of expensive examples exist. Look at Johnnie Walker Blue.

Some examples of blended whiskey include Canadian Mist, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Seagram’s Seven, Kessler Whiskey, and Hibiki. Probably the most widely known (and my go to) example of blended whiskey is Johnnie Walker Black.

Impress with this globe on the bar.

Single Malt

Single malt comes from only one distillery and uses one type of pure malted grain. In Scotland, most famous for single malts, it must be barley. Single malt whiskey in Scotland must be distilled using pot stills at a single distillery, and must be aged for at least three years in oak. While the Scotch model is usually copied elsewhere, these rules may not have the backing of law in other places. For example, there is no definition of the term “single” with relation to whisky in the law of the United States. This means American whiskey advertised as “single malt whisky” is not limited to barley, some use rye.

Show off that whiskey in the man cave.

Blended or single malt, take your pick. Let your palate decide which you prefer. At home, I enjoy a peaty single malt to end my day. On the river, oddly enough, we like chilled JW Black. Let your mood decide.

Peaty Scotch described.

Whisky or whiskey explained.

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