The Difference Between Single Barrel and Blended Whiskey

Single Barrel and Blended WhiskyMost consumers and bartenders think that single-malt Scotch is not considered a type of blended whisky. However, single malt scotch is actually a very specific kind of blend.  These days, almost all whiskies available in the market are blends. These include ryes, Tennessees, bourbons, and scotches. To further understand more about scotches, it is important for you to know the different between single and blend.

What is Blend?
Blend can be defined informally as a type of mixture that uses two or more whiskies that are bottled and marketed as a single whisky. Formally, a blend can be considered as a product that contains a mixture of grain whiskies and oak barrel-aged malt. Most people think that once a certain whisky is labeled as single malt, it is already a product of only a single batch or oak barrel of whisky. This is actually a misconception since most single malts are considered blends since they are technically a mixture of whiskies.

What is Single?
Single, on the other hand, is not a product of a single batch or a single oak barrel. This actually refers to a single distillery. A single malt whisky, for example, is a product of a single distillery. This is not a product of a single oak barrel or a single batch. A single malt Lagavulin may also contain whiskies from many different types of oak barrel, which is produced at the Lagavulin distillery. Nevertheless, this will only contain whiskies that are produced or made at Lagavulin.

The single malt whisky usually contains barley and other cereal grains such as corn or wheat. To make it clear, the word single does not refer to the use of a single grain to create the product, but a single distillery where the product is made.

Factors and Variables that Affect the Spirit
Once whisky is aged inside an oak barrel, there are different variables that can affect the character of the spirit. These variables include the climate variations, the location where the oak barrel is placed, and as well as the quality of oak used in the oak barrel. This is why choosing the right oak barrel is important.

Since there are many factors that influence the taste and character of a whisky, most whiskies in the market these days are made by mixing barrels together in order to have a product that is consistent from the others. Usually, a master blender will be the one to taste through the oak barrels ready for release and mix them together to produce a product that is similar or consistent with the flavor profile of the brand. Not every oak barrel produced at Glenmorangie or Springbank will have the same exact style that most of the consumers expect. This is why a blend of whiskies from different kinds of oak barrel is necessary to get the desired house style.

What is Single-Barrel Scotch?
A single oak barrel scotch is the product of the single oak barrel whisky. This is usually unmixed with whiskies coming from other sources. Since the aroma, flavor, color, and other defining characteristics vary from oak barrel to oak barrel, each oak barrel released is a new or unique product. This means that single oak barrel releases are very different or inconsistent from one release to the other.

Other Types of Blends
There are three different types of blends that are known to people. These include the blended malt scotch whisky, the blended grain scotch whisky, and the blended scotch whisky.

Blended Malt Scotch Whisky — these are blends of single malts that came from two or more distilleries. Certain companies such as the Compass Box buy whiskies and blend them together to produce new products with different characteristics.

Blended Grain Scotch Whisky — this is a blend of single grains from more than one distilleries. Single grains are typically very light and mild.

Blended Scotch Whisky — This is a mix of malt and grain whiskies that are sourced from several distilleries.