The term 'single malt'
Does anyone think that the term 'single malt' has become a misleading and somewhat fetishistic term ?
What I have in mind is that 'single malt' excludes many Irish whiskies (Greenspot and Redbreast, to be precise), yet technically includes such 'single malts' as Old Potrero (the single malt rye produced in California). I don't think anyone really has whiskies like Old Potrero in mind when they think of single malt, yet there is no reason to exclude it based on the term alone (MJ reviews it in his malt whisky book!). Surely Irish potstill whiskies and SMW share a common character. Yet they cannot be included together, because, although they are 'single', they are not 'malts'.
I think this makes little sense. People primarily differentiate single malts from blended whiskies, not from vatted whiskies or grain whiskies, or even potstill whiskies, which are little known to the average consumer, I should think.
Neither the words 'single' nor 'malt' are necessary to make this distinction. Not 'single', because the real distinction between SMW and blends is not the number of distillieries that go into making the drink, but the fact that there is no grain whisky in SMW. And not 'malt', because, again, the main idea is that it is not grain whisky.
I notice that on the carton that comes with Redbreast 12, they, surely influenced by the SMSW phenomenon, take the trouble to point out that it is a 'single'. Now, Jameson NAS is also strictly speaking a 'single', for the Midelton distillery also distills grain whisky, and everything in the Jameson comes from Midelton! In fact I believe that it is correct to say that every whisky produced by Irish Distillers is a 'single', and I think this may hold for Cooley too.
It also states that it is 'unblended'; but then again so are Single Grain whiskies. But they can't call it a malt; so essentially there is no way of clearly and simply indicating exactly what kind of whisky it is, other than calling it 'pure potstill'; but then again so are all SMSWs, as well as Old Potrero and Forty Creek, the Canadian rye, if you take the term literally.
So, perhaps we should just speak of 'barley whisk(e)y' or 'pure barley whisk(e)y' to make it clear that we are not talking about blends or whiskies made from other grains. It's not a romantic term, but it is more accurate.
In other words: 'single' has little meaning outside of the Scotch whisky industry (and is even a bit unnecessary within it), and 'malt' is a too narrow term which has become too trendy, and just might dissuade interest from other whiskies that are just like single malts in that they are barley whiskies.