Updated December 11, 2008
Judy asks Tim –Can you please weigh in on the difference between malt, blended and grain whisky? And which one is best to give as a gift for a whisky lover? I want to buy my boss a bottle, but I don't want to embarrass myself.
There are three main categories of whiskies, but those can be broken down even further. These are the most basic descriptions I can devise, but then read on for my recommendations.
• Single malt whisky - a malted barley whisky from one distillery.
• Single grain whisky - a grain whisky from one distillery (not necessarily from a single type of grain).
• Blended malt whisky - a malt whisky created by mixing single malt whiskies from several distilleries.
• Blended grain whisky - a whisky created by mixing grain whiskies from more than one distillery.
• Blended Scotch whisky - a mixture of malt and grain whiskies, usually from multiple distilleries.
As you probably know, personal taste dictates whether you'll like a specific whisky or not, but I feel pretty confident in saying that if your boss is a whisky aficionado, then his taste probably leans to single malts. There really is a single malt whisky for everybody. Some of them are round and sweet while others are spicy, medicinal, nutty, fruity or flowery. With some experience, you can discover the strangest fragrances in a single malt. Everything depends on the water and barley that is used, the peating level of the malted barley, the size and shape of the stills, the skill & experience of a stillman, the amount of reflux, the type, history & size of the cask used for maturation, etc.
If you come on into the store, I would be happy to help you make an informed decision about what brand of whisky your boss might enjoy. I'm sure you have a budget you want to stay within as well? Don't worry - we have dozens of options for you and I'm sure you'll leave much more knowledgeable. Or, if you're in a hurry, just say so and we'll select one of our more popular brands and get you on your way! Cheers!