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Vatted Malts

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Postby bamber » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:26 pm

Think it was about 1:1, but I forget now. I haven't tried vatting bourbons but I can well imagine that ETL and GTS would get along well.

They are both sweet and powerful, and it was a really concentrated and full on experience.
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Postby BruceCrichton » Mon Nov 21, 2005 6:05 pm

Malcolm John Andrews wrote: Bruce, did you never hear of Haffenden's Master Blender Pack? I sold it in the Benelux in the seventies. There were 4 malts and a grain so one good make up either a vatted malt or blend. The whisky industry hated Haffenden for this monstrosity and it soon folded.


Sorry Malcom, that was before my time.

Malcolm John Andrews wrote:In fact I "vat" quite often. I give nosings & tastings in Benelux (à la Jim Murray, but who I disapprove of; in Ghent he condemned adding a splash of water to a malt).


Good man, Jim Murray. 8) I never add water to a whisky unless it is over 40%abv.
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Postby zhi » Sat May 20, 2006 2:19 pm

i once tried mixing an cnoc 12yo and glenlivet 12yo at a 1:1 ratio. it was not very successful. i find an cnoc is slightly more peaty than glenlivet while glenlivet offers more delicate notes on the palate. however, the two dont complement each other well.

the only other vatting i have experimented with is glenmorangie 10yo with highland park 12yo at a 4:1 ratio (glenmorangie:highland park). if heavily sherried whisky ever gets a bit too rich for the taste buds, this vatting is a perfect change of pace in my opinion. it offers the subtle notes of 100% bourbon matured glenmorangie while offering a hint of what great sherry whisky can be like. i found this drink most soothing while reading 'dead famous' by ben elton. is this why 'blackadder' is in the whisky business as well? :D
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Postby hpulley » Mon May 22, 2006 12:03 pm

C_I wrote:Just bringing back some water of life to this subject...

After re-reading an article in WM-39 about vatted malts I wondered why vatted malts are never a hit. The general tone of the article is that vatted malts are also good, but sometimes considered as the bridge between blended and single. Also vatted malts are able to introduce complexity that isn't noticeable in their single components.


How can vatted malts introduce complexity that isn't noticeable in their single components?

C_I wrote:When considering the above, and that "single" malts are actually also vattings, why vatted malts never grow into something big. There is almost an infinite amount of combinations to make out of the 88+ (ok, 88! = 1.8 ×10^143) available distilleries with any style you can wish for (Cardhu could be partly recreated using other whiskies, but was not received well). Maybe it could be even considered that no longer available malts could be recreated with vattings (I know it happens already, but usually it sticks to create a single malts that comes close to the original, like Macallan replica and Stronachie).

So why does the counter stop at just a handfew of vatted malts which are considered good (see previous posts) compared to the huge single malt market? Is it because of the image of vatted malts (single malts are THE only good whiskies, vats are just $#^%#), or is it just difficult to get into the market as there are so much different tastes, and which to focus on? John Glaser has apparently good success, so there is a market for it.


A lot of it is marketing. There are no large companies marketing vattings, aside from Johnny Walker Green which isn't really marketed as being that special. Without a big name and big advertising dollars, vattings will have trouble getting the word out. A distillery can do guerrilla marketing as most have been around for at least 100 years and have associated history, perhaps a visiting centre, etc. A vatting will have nothing physically associated with it and not much history so far so most will just seem them as grainless blends.

Among many single malt lovers, the single cask has an even more special place so there is an understanding that most single malts are vattings.

In my experience, blend buyers and single malt buyers buy in different ways. That is not to say there aren't people who mostly drink blends but buy a special single malt at Christmas, and conversely there are single malt drinkers who like some blends or prefer to drink blends when they're drinking rather than doing serious nosing and tasting. For the most part, however, blend drinkers are in one of two camps: 1) they don't care what they are served, "scotch on the rocks please!"; or 2) they have found a brand they like and they stick with it, often religiously defending their choice. Give me Teachers Highland Cream or give me death! This makes them like most other customers for the marketing and advertising folks: you pay a certain amount of money to attract a new customer and then a lesser amount to retain that customer. Most serious single malt drinkers I know are different and would never ask for an anonymous single malt in a pub or would drink beer instead if their favorite whisky isn't available.

Many single maltsters will want to try a bottle or bottles from as many distilleries as possible. Old, closed distilleries may hold a truly special place for them. I know some that never buy the same bottle twice, always wanting a new expression. You'd think vattings would be something new for them but they aren't biting as there is no distillery to post-pin on the map, no conquest, just somebody's mix to try if they get a vatting instead of a single malt.

Other single malt drinkers have been doing it for long enough to know the distilleries they like and while they might try a vatting here or there, they become like the blend drinkers, more of the usual customer who is attracted and then retained by the brand. "If it's Ardbeg, it's gotta be good," they'll say. Unlike the blend drinker who probably won't even experiment with 10yo, 12yo and 25yo versions of their blend, single malt fans will often be willing to pay larger sums for older or more special expressions from their favorite whisky factory. I like to think I'm outside of the influence of marketing but I know I'm just as hooked as the next guy.

With time and money I think vattings could get bigger but it is a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Do the current vatters have sufficient stocks to make a product for decades? If not, they may have difficulty hanging onto customers who get comfortable with a brand and its taste.

People who like vattings have probably gotten beyond distilleries and brands and just want to explore tastes. This is a more pure pursuit than liking a bunch of distilleries but it provides more risk to the customer. They have to be willing to risk something new every time; what is to say vatting B will be good like vatting A was? Most customers want predictability; they don't want to drop hard earned money on a premium priced product only to find it is no better than a mass marketed product.

Price is an area where vatted malts are NOT between blends and malts. Due to small market share, they are priced up with single malts so many ask, "why buy this when I could have a single malt for the price?" That's the image all over again, which will be very difficult to shake off.

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Postby Lawrence » Mon May 22, 2006 6:00 pm

Maybe it's because vatted malts are pointless. They tend to be an average of the constituent malts and no matter how they are made up, one malt is pulling the other malt down a little, muting its characteristics.

They are merely a curiousity on the used up cask heap of whisky history.
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Postby Frodo » Mon May 22, 2006 9:24 pm

hpulley wrote:Price is an area where vatted malts are NOT between blends and malts. Due to small market share, they are priced up with single malts so many ask, "why buy this when I could have a single malt for the price?"


Hey! That's my train of thought!
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Postby BruceCrichton » Tue May 23, 2006 5:02 pm

Lawrence wrote:Maybe it's because vatted malts are pointless. <snip>
They are merely a curiousity on the used up cask heap of whisky history.


If you don't drink them, that leaves all the more for me. 8)

Vatted malts can be great. Especially if they use malts not usually bottled as singles.
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Postby PuckJunkie » Tue May 23, 2006 5:19 pm

hpulley wrote:How can vatted malts introduce complexity that isn't noticeable in their single components?

I think the theory there would be that complexity lies in the number of characteristics in a malt's nose or palate. Since the component malts could each have different characteristics, combining them could then result in a product that shows a greater number of characteristics, and is thus more complex, than what it comprises.

However, I could be way off base. I'm still a little unclear on the difference between vatted malts and single malts that have been vatted. Or is there one? I seem to remember reading a thread that indicated there was, but I can't find it now. Surely there is, because I can't imagine the following comment was intended to include products like a'bunadh and Uigeadail:

Lawrence wrote:Maybe it's because vatted malts are pointless. They tend to be an average of the constituent malts and no matter how they are made up, one malt is pulling the other malt down a little, muting its characteristics.

They are merely a curiousity on the used up cask heap of whisky history.

Or was it? Because if so, wow! :shock:

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Postby bamber » Tue May 23, 2006 5:51 pm

C_I wrote:There is almost an infinite amount of combinations to make out of the 88+ (ok, 88! = 1.8 ×10^143)


Sorry I've got an attack of Mr Pickies its actually more like (I think !):

Assuming the minimum number of malts in a vatting is 2 and the maximum uses all 88:

.......................................... 88
Number of vatted malts = SUM 88! / (n!(88 - n)!)
.......................................... 2

Which is 3.1 x 10^26. Far less variety I'm sure you'll agree ;)
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Postby Lawrence » Tue May 23, 2006 6:02 pm

PuckJunkie, vatted malts are the single malts of two or more distilleries when they are mixed together. Examples of this are Compass Box Peat Monster or Johnnie Walker Green.

Aberlour a'bunadh and Ardbeg U are NOT vatted malts. They are single malts becuase they are the product of one distillery. Sometimes, just to add confusion, people refer to the mixing of a number of casks from the SAME distillery as vatting. Some other people refer to this process as blending even though there is not a drop of grain whisky in sight (Blended whisky is the product of mxing single malts, made from barley in pot stills with grain whisky, made in continous stills using corn or more commonly wheat.)

Now isn't that clear?

For this discussion we are talking about vatted malts, the single malts of two or more distilleries mixed together.
Last edited by Lawrence on Tue May 23, 2006 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PuckJunkie » Tue May 23, 2006 7:51 pm

Lawrence wrote:PuckJunkie, vatted malts are the single malts of two or more distilleries when they are mixed together. Examples of this are Compass Box Peat Monster or Johnnie Walker Green.

Aberlour a'bunadh and Ardbeg U are NOT vatted malts. They are single malts becuase they are the product of one distillery. Sometimes, just to add confusion, people refer to the mixing of a number of casks from the SAME distillery as vatting. Some other people refer to this process as blending even though there is not a drop of grain whisky in sight (Blended whisky is the product of mxing single malts, made from barley in pot stills with grain whisky, made in continous stills using corn or moe commonly wheat.)

Now isn't that clear?

For this discussion we are talking about vatted malts, the single malts of tow or more distilleries mixed together.


To be honest, I'm much more clear on bamber's combinatorics.

So the whisky in blended whiskies differs from vatted whiskies by the presence of grain whisky - which is made from products other than malted barley? (It is a little confusing, since when I read descriptions of some single-malt whiskies, they commonly refer to them as having been made of a vatting of several different ages from the same distillery. But I'm beginning to get it. Maybe.)

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Postby Lawrence » Tue May 23, 2006 8:15 pm

So the whisky in blended whiskies differs from vatted whiskies by the presence of grain whisky - which is made from products other than malted barley? (It is a little confusing, since when I read descriptions of some single-malt whiskies, they commonly refer to them as having been made of a vatting of several different ages from the same distillery. But I'm beginning to get it. Maybe.)


I think you have it!

Single Malts- made in pot stills from malted barley from one distillery.

Single Grain Whisky- made in continuous stills from either wheat or corn in one distillery.

Vatted Malts- the marrying of single malts from different distilleries. Example, marrying Caol Ila and Clynelish.

Blended Whisky- the marrying of various (or maybe just one) single malt(s) with grain whisk(y)ies, an example is Johnnie Walker.

Now that you've got it sorted out the Scotch Whisky Association is changing the terms used to describe this process but that's another discussion.
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Postby PuckJunkie » Wed May 24, 2006 8:07 am

C_I wrote:Err, I think it is even:

n!/k!(n-k)!

In which n=88, k=2, resulting in merely 3828 combinations of 2.. (Actually logical, two combinations out of 88 would be 88^2= 7744, but as there are some double combinations, it is slightly less than the virtual endless amount)


Your formula is absolutely correct, but solving for k=2 yields only all the possible combinations of two; babmer solved for all values of k from 2 to 88, which gives the number of vatted malt possibilities formed from any number of single malt distilleries, from 2 to all 88.

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Postby bamber » Wed May 24, 2006 10:04 am

PuckJunkie wrote:
C_I wrote:Err, I think it is even:

n!/k!(n-k)!

In which n=88, k=2, resulting in merely 3828 combinations of 2.. (Actually logical, two combinations out of 88 would be 88^2= 7744, but as there are some double combinations, it is slightly less than the virtual endless amount)


Your formula is absolutely correct, but solving for k=2 yields only all the possible combinations of two; babmer solved for all values of k from 2 to 88, which gives the number of vatted malt possibilities formed from any number of single malt distilleries, from 2 to all 88.

Puck


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