Whiskey and Craft Beer Reviews

Types of Scotch Whisky.

Types of Scotch Whisky.

Types of Scotch whisky.
Scotch whisky is the blanket term given to the many types of whiskies that Scotland produces. There are many sub categories of Scottish whisky, and below you’ll find a simple description of each.

Single malt-this whiskey may only be made from malted barley, and it must be made in a type of still called a pot still. A pot still is an inefficient type of still, but it is this inefficient nature that adds flavor and complexity to the whisky. Single malts may be made from a blend of different batches of whiskey as long as it comes from one single distillery. The age on the label must be that of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.

Blended-a whiskey made by blending whiskies from different distilleries, some may be single malts, or whiskies made from grain. Grain whiskey is easier and cheaper to produce, but the flavors are also simpler and less desirable. When most people talk of blended whisky they mean a blend of single malt and grain whiskies. But there are other types of blended whiskies.
Blended Scotch whisky-is a blend of different single malts and different grain whiskies.
Blended malt whisky-is a blend of different single malts from different distilleries. Sometimes called pure malts, or vatted malts.
Blended grain Whisky– is a blend of different grain whiskies from different distilleries.

Pure malt-a name given to a blend of different single malts from different distilleries. This must be all malt whiskies, no grain whiskies and sometimes referred to as vatted whiskey.

Vatted-a blend containing only single malts, usually from the same region. Vatted whisky is a term that is currently not being used in scotch labeling.

Cask strength-when whisky comes out of the still it is about 120-130 proof. This whisky is then watered down to about 115 proof before being put into oak barrels to age. As the whiskey ages the alcoholic strength will increase slightly due to evaporation. Most distilleries add water before bottling to bring the whisky down to 86 proof, but if a whisky is bottled at the strength it comes out of the barrel, it is called cask strength, or barrel proof whisky.

Independent bottling-in Scotland a distillery may sell some of its whisky to an independent warehouseman as soon as it is put into the barrel. This helps distilleries with cash flow as they don’t have to age a barrel ten years or more to see a profit. These warehouses usually sell their barrels after they are aged to a blender who uses them to make their blended whiskies. But occasionally a barrel ages beautifully and is instead sold to an independent bottler, who will bottle that whisky under their own name but also using the distilleries name. This leads to some confusion when someone sees a bottle of Gordon & Macphail’s, 20 year old Macallan scotch. This is simply a whisky made at The Macallan distillery but bought and sold by the Gordon & Macphail Company.

Single grain whiskey-occasionally a barrel of grain whiskey ages beautifully on its own, and may be found by an independent bottler in a warehouse, and they will buy and bottle it without any blending.

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