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Single Malt Pricing and Blends

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Why are Single Malts generally more expensive than the blends that use them?

Single Malts are simply better and demand a higher price.
12
24%
Blends are less appreciated by Scotch fanatics than Singles.
8
16%
There is a certain level of snobbery involved.
7
14%
Blends can get away with using lower quality spirits and make up for it with blending.
16
31%
Blenders get preferential bulk pricing from their source distilleries.
5
10%
Other
3
6%
 
Total votes : 51

Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby jruddy » Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:38 pm

I attended a Master Class featuring Ballantines premium blends, 17,21,30yo. I must say the 21 was quite good, one of the best I've ever had.

But I also have a $24 bottle of Teachers in the cupboard that isn't bad at all, especially at the price.

I have to admit, super premium blends aside, I don't understand the economics behind blends generally being so much cheaper than the singles they are blended up from.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby K-Mile » Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:32 pm

I think the main reason is that a blend that contains some Talisker does not have to get as much as an entire bottle of Talisker (as an example). They put in cheaper whiskies to get the 700ml, but mix in just enough of the quality malts to get a decent blend.

That, and there's definitely snobbery involved, making malts more exclusive and thus can get away with higher prices. So that's two in one, actually.

Great approach in this poll, btw :thumbsup:
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby Ganga » Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:59 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong here but don't blends generally have a grain alcohol as a component which is much cheaper than the malts? If I recall correctly some 50-70% is grain instead of malt.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby K-Mile » Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:22 am

Ganga wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong here but don't blends generally have a grain alcohol as a component which is much cheaper than the malts? If I recall correctly some 50-70% is grain instead of malt.


That's right.. I'm not sure about the percentage though, but that would depend on the quality of the blend.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby Elagabalus » Sun Nov 04, 2007 11:40 pm

I look at SMS and blends in a different light.

A SMS is 24k gold.

A premium luxury blend is 18k gold.
A premium blend is 14k gold.
A standard blend is 10k gold.

A premium luxury blend will usually be a mix of various high end single malt scotches ie Talisker, Lagavulin etc etc. JW blue is an example of this.

A premium blend is a mix of great SMS and other blends.

A standard blend is a mix of SMS and mostly other blends.

24k gold is pure gold or 100% gold. 18k gold is 75% pure gold and 25% alloy. 14k is 14 parts pure gold out of 24 total parts as a percentage etc etc.

Is this a good way of looking at SMS and Blends?
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby K-Mile » Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:37 pm

Elagabalus wrote:I look at SMS and blends in a different light.

A SMS is 24k gold.

A premium luxury blend is 18k gold.
A premium blend is 14k gold.
A standard blend is 10k gold.


I'm not sure if this can merely be expressed in %'s. It also matters how tastes complement each other, and what malt/grain whiskies are used.

So merely SMS / Grain ratio's might not be sufficient. JWB is supposed to contain some ultra premium malts, which also affects the price. Careful blending of tastes might make a huge difference in the quality of the blend, but might not affect price as much.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby The Fachan » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:16 pm

A vatting of premium blend such as JWB or Chivas Regal will be in the region of 3-4000 casks at least and this will be done at least once a week.
For ultra premium malts to be whiskies that are produced to such a quantity sounds like marketing to me and if there are present will offer nothing at all to the blend apart for a waste of time and money.
This happened several years ago when JW Blue was said by the owners to have whiskies of up to 60 years old in it (Auchtertool if I remember, closed and long gone) and the SWA stopped that.People started to believe that it was a 60yo whisky!!!!! Now after an article in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago it mentions an 18yo grain being a part of the blend.
I would be very surprised if JWB has any worthwhile quantity of anything above 18yo in it. But as has happened here several times before I have been proved VERY wrong.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby Di Blasi » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:37 pm

No vote from me but I do love blends and the diversity they offer! I started with single malts, and now just love good whisk(e)y, be it blended, single malt, one from some small producing distillery in an unrecognized for whisky country, as long as it's good! Mood is everything, and do you really always want to drink a single malt, and is a single malt really better than a premium blend?? Have a blind tasting and see which wins.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby Iain » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:43 pm

I wonder if some premium and "super premium" etc blends with "big" age statements (Royal Salute, etc) contain a blend of mostly malt and very little grain whisky? I know some grain whisky is long-aged in decent casks, but is that common practice?
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby Di Blasi » Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:04 pm

Iain wrote:I wonder if some premium and "super premium" etc blends with "big" age statements (Royal Salute, etc) contain a blend of mostly malt and very little grain whisky? I know some grain whisky is long-aged in decent casks, but is that common practice?


Good question Iain, and interesting to think about the well-aged single grains being bottled that are very good, obviously also going into super-premium blends.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:13 pm

Malts play on the hype and are actually overpriced whiskies in the first place. Now don't get upset at this statement as I love my malts and will continue to drink them like the rest of you but we have to be honest. Where as the blend market cannot get away with this sort of pricing due to the Blend market image and of course the sea of bargain basement blends. However we in Ireland have a totally different view of blends and that is why Irish Whiskey is dominated by blends. Most Irish blends are of high quality and once you start getting up to the likes of Blackbush (70% malt content) or Jameson 12yo and above you have whiskies that can easily hold their own with single malt scotches(if your that way inclined :wink: ).

I also see the same issue with super premium blends as they like single malts are trying to create an air of superiority which may or may not be the case as the whole market is more of an image and marketing project rather than the whisky itself being x-times superion in relation to price. Just because JW blue has 40year old whiskies and as good as it may be does not mean it is worth 10 times a 12yo. it is all down to hype if you as me and that is what we have to live with unfortunately

However in defense of single malts there are some cracking distilleries out there and I for one am happy to pay this premium but there is only so much I can take.
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Re: Single Malt Pricing and Blends

Postby Willie JJ » Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:46 pm

There are some economics involved in this too.

Blends are, in general, made up primarily of grain whisky, which is made from cheaper grains such as malt and corn, as opposed to malted barley for single malts. Additionally grain whiskies are produced in vast quantities in continuous stills, which are much cheaper to run and produce a very high strength spirit. Thus the main component of a blend is a much cheaper spirit and this has an impact on price.

Fortunately for single malt lovers, grain whisky does not have strong flavour characteristics and needs the addition of the malt whisky to give it distinctive character. So the malt distilleries are kept going despite their much more expensive product.

Obviously, marketing has a lot to do with the final price of whisky, whether malt or blend, but, at the fundamental level, blends are just a cheaper product to make.
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