THE ART OF WHISKY BLENDING
What is mixing? What is its purpose?
Some distilleries bottle a portion of their distilled whisky and sell it to consumers as a single or unblended whisky. However, by far the majority of what they produce is used to produce the famous blended Scotch whisky that is sold worldwide.
Blending whisky is a considerable art that can only be acquired after years of experience.
A blended whisky will consist of 15 to 50 different single whiskies, blended in proportion to the secret recipe of the blending company in question.
Whiskies from different distilleries have their own characteristics, and just as different temperaments are often incompatible, some whiskies will not blend happily with certain other whiskies. Therefore, the malts and grains in a blend must be selected to complement and enhance their respective flavors. Blending is not a dilution in any sense of the word. The bartender's task is to combine different single whiskies to produce a blend that brings out the best qualities of each of its components.
The bartender's goal is first and foremost to produce a whisky with a clear and recognizable character.
Most importantly, his blends should not deviate from this standard, which is expected by customers all over the world. Therefore, his second goal is to achieve consistency.
The bartender must also decide when different single whiskies are ready to be used in his blends. They are taken from the maturation warehouse to the blending facility where they are blended together in blending casks. They are usually put back into the casks and allowed to "marry" for a few months before being bottled. Some companies prefer to barrel the malt and grains separately and only put the two together before bottling.
The combination of malt and malt or grain and grain is called blending.
When did blending begin?
Blending was pioneered by Andrew Usher in Edinburgh in the early 1860s. Only after the practice became common did the taste of Scotch whisky spread first to England and then to the world.
The reason for this was that the taste of canned malt whisky was too strong for everyday drinking, especially for people in sedentary occupations and warm climates. By combining malt whisky with grain whisky, the characteristics of grain whisky are less pronounced and the need for a whisky with a milder taste that is more suited to modern living conditions can be met.
What is the ratio of malt to grain whisky in blended Scotch whisky?
There is no fixed ratio and it varies from bartender to bartender. No brand owner is willing to reveal the proportions of the different whiskies used, but the bartender determines the proportions according to the characteristics he seeks for his blend. This character is determined not only by the proportion of malt and grain whiskies it contains, but also by the age of the individual whiskies and the way they are combined to bring out the best in each other.
What is a Luxury Blended Scotch Whisky?
It is a blend that contains a higher percentage of carefully selected older whiskies and, as a result, is more expensive.
When a bottle of blended whisky has an age label on it, does it refer to the average age of the blended whisky?
The law states that when the age is declared on the label, it must refer to the youngest whisky in the blend.
For example, if the blend is described as eight years old, then the youngest whisky in the blend must have been matured for at least eight years.
Is it legal to sell whisky that is less than three years old for consumption in this country?
Although this spirit is distilled under the strict conditions used to produce Scotch whisky, it is not entitled to be called Scotch whisky until it has matured for three years. This does not apply to compound spirits such as gin, vodka and liqueurs.
Editor: Rubick L.