The blended scotch hate has got to stop. We’re not sure exactly when blended scotches started getting the short end of the whisky stick, but it’s high time somebody said something. We’re more than willing to be that somebody.
First, let’s get one uncomfortable truth out of the way: Even single malt scotches are (technically) blended scotches.
If a scotch is labeled as a “single malt,” it means that the liquor within the bottle comes from a single distillery, but it’s often comprised of multiple whiskies. The term “blended scotch,” on the other hand, refers to a whisky that is made up of at least two aged grain and/or malt whiskies from more than one distillery.
Is your mind blown yet? You’ve been a blended scotch lover this whole time. Still not ready to admit blended scotches can be great? We’ll go on.
If you’re basing your distaste for blended scotches solely on your love of single malt, stop. Because single malt and blended scotches are two very different products. Single malts are the lone wolves of the whisky world. They tend to display more singular characteristics like intense smoky and briny flavors, and they’re great for sipping neat or in a manner that highlights their distinct essence. Blended scotches just want everyone to get along. They boast more subtle and varied flavors and, though they can also be sipped straight, they’re perfect for blending seamlessly into cocktails like the Penicillin, Rob Roy and Blood and Sand.
We’re willing to admit that there are some bad blended scotch eggs out there, which could be held responsible for giving blended scotch such a terrible reputation. Certain brands attempted to sell their blended bottles as somewhat cheaper single malt alternatives and just couldn’t live up to their marketing. Why not? As we said above, blended scotch and single malt scotch are two separate beasts. The one will never be a fair replacement for the other. It’s like trying to fit a spherical ice cube into a square ice cube tray. It also doesn’t help that many bartenders’ wells often include a bottle of particularly harsh, cheap blended scotch, giving people an awful first impression.
But with the number of blended scotches available across the States now, there’s no longer a good excuse to dismiss them all in one fell swoop. Newer brands like Compass Box and Monkey Shoulder, as well as older offerings like Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse, consistently produce complex, quality products for an extremely reasonable price point—typically coming in anywhere from $20 to $50.
If our words aren’t persuading you, we’ll try using numbers. In 2015, blended scotch outsold single malt scotch (even though sales of single malt scotch increased by nearly 182 percent) by more than three and a half times. So Scotland’s master blenders must be doing something right.
So the next time you hear an uneducated scotch lover proclaim the prowess of single malt scotch, kindly point out that he is, in fact, full of it. Then take a big sip of your Famous Grouse Presbyterian and walk away.