What's the Difference? Single Malt vs. Single Grain Scotch

Posted by Beau Farrell on Jan 19, 2017 11:02:06 AM

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 (more on the different spellings later in this blog). There's Scotch Whisky, there's Bourbon Whiskey, and there's Canadian Whiskey. The big difference is that each different country had an overabundance of different grains that they used to distil that particular "juice."

What's the Difference?

Canadian whiskeys can have all kinds of rye, or they can have corn, or they can have wheat. Scotch whiskies have lots of barleys and similar grains. And, there you'll find some distinction between the types of Scotch.

For instance, what is the difference between a Single Malt Scotch and a Single Grain Scotch? 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 — A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals, and by batch distillation in pot stills. Single Malt Scotch Whisky must be bottled in Scotland. In Scotland, the only grain allowed to be used in a single malt whisky is barley.
  • Single Grain Scotch Whisky — A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery from water and malted barley with or without whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals, and which does not comply with the definition of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Here's another way to explain it. Single Grain Whiskey refers to being made in a single distillery, not a single grain.  For instance, single grain whisky is often made from wheat, corn, or a blend of the two. The taste? Often a bit lighter and leaner than those made with a single malt.

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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Topics: Whiskey