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3 min read

What's the Difference? Single Malt vs. Blended Whisky

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single grain scotch"I don't mind growing old. If I have to go before my time, this is how I'll go – cigarette in one hand, glass of Scotch in the other."  — Ava Gardner

And, so it is with those who prefer Scotch "neat" over any other spirit. It's an eloquent drink with a special allure that ignites passion by those who sip and savor this whiskey. And, it is a whisky indeed (for more on the different spellings, click here). There's Scotch Whisky, there's Bourbon Whiskey, and there's Canadian Whiskey. The big difference is that each different country has an overabundance of different grains that they used to distill that particular "juice."

And one rule of thumb that's important to always remember: much like Champagne must be made in Champagne, France, Scotch can only be made in Scotland. 

What's the Difference?

Canadian whiskeys can be made of rye, corn, or wheat. Scotch whiskies are made of barley and similar grains. And, there, you'll find some distinction between the different types of Scotch.

For instance, what is the difference between a Single Malt Whisky and a Single Grain Whisky? For starters, single grain whisky is being predicted by experts as the next trend in whisky. Here is the difference, according to the rules of the Scotch Whisky Association.

  • Single Malt Whisky — Single malt whisky is made entirely from malted grain (which, typically, is barley.) This is where things get confusing, because while single malt whisky's are typically made of malted barley, you could also have a single malt rye whisky. Well, at least you can in the United States. Scotland plays by different rules. A single malt whisky from Scotland will always be made from barley. A single malt whiskey is a great way to show off a distillery's particular style and flavor. 
  • Single Grain (blended) Whisky — Think of a single grain (or blended) whisky as a combination of several single malt whisky's. Single grain whisky's are also distilled at a single distillery. The difference here is that single grain whisky's can be (and are most often made of) corn, wheat, or a blend. Single grain whisky's do not need to be malted or made from barley.

In both of these instances, 'single' refers to being made in a single distillery; not a single grain, a single run or a single barrel. The taste result from a single grain whisky is often lighter and leaner than a single malt whisky.

Two Single Grain Whiskies to Try

Notice the spelling of whisky and whiskey in this blog post and want to get your editor's hat on? It's whisky or whiskey (and whiskies or whiskeys), depending on the location. Read here for the lowdown on the brown spirit favorite.

Want to learn more about Scotch and other terrific spirits? Watch our Haskell's Event Page for upcoming Scotch tastings — as well as wine, beer, and other events at our various locations.

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