Blended Scotch is easily the most popular variety of whisky and its production accounts for well over three quarters of all Scottish stocks. Even with the rise in popularity of the single malt, the industry still relies heavily on the income generated by sales of blended whisky. Examples include the very popular Hankey Banister, the Johnny Walker range and Grants.
Blended whisky is defined by the mixing of grain and malt whiskies together, although it is important to realise that all the liquid used in this process must be created by the same distillery. Its consumption has been popular since the late 1800’s but blending was first pioneered at the beginning of the 19th century in order to tame the harsh spirits that were commonplace during that time.
It generally has a lower price point than single malt, due in part to the grain spirit that is used being more economical to produce in large quantities than 100% malted barley. Grain whisky is generally quite balanced and smooth, so to counteract this, malt whisky, with its fuller and more complex flavour, is added in order to create something far more palatable and distinguished.
Standard practice dictates that multiple grain whiskies are used in the blend along with a varying amount of different malts. The levels and quantities used vary wildly from one whisky to the next, despite the same criteria that applies to all Scotch still having to be followed; it must be aged in Oak casks, be distilled in pot stills by batch process and be bottled at over 40% ABV. Obviously this must all be done in Scotland! Although blended whisky will never be able to compete with single malt in the price game, its production is a worthy and skilled craft that produces some excellent drams for the discerning whisky drinker to enjoy.