Although I tend to drink malts, I have some sympathy for the writer of the article. I have come across many people (even on these Boards) who assert that all malts are superior to all blends and all Scotch is superior to all whiskies from outwith our fair Alba. Others (perhaps not on these Boards) will boldly assert that the older a whisky, the better it is. Some will even assert that a whisky without peat is not a whisky worth drinking.
The truth is that many single malts are really pretty poor and I suspect that most of us tend to drink only the better malts on an everyday basis. We know enough to avoid the disappointments of, say, Oban, Fettercairn, Deanston or <<shudders>> Littlemill. Most of us have probably never tried the de luxe blends (I can almost hear people asking why they should when for the same money they could have a bottle of Glenanything). Our experience of blends tends to be the Bells in the pub or at our maiden aunty's house, with neither a blend nor a setting that shows the genre off to best effect. But if we had also tried the best blends and the worst malts, perhaps we might be less categorical.
I'll acknowledge that many blends were created solely to be cheap, and that most of them are quite nasty. They do, though, offer a lifeline that keeps distilleries in operation so that they can also produce their one off, stellar bottlings that we enjoy. They are useful for consuming the poorer single malts that would otherwise be in our bottles. They also provide an inexpensive product that gives many people a lot of pleasure. But some blends - even cheap ones - can offer a complex and pleasurable experience that far outweighs the more mediocre malts.
As to the "malt is an ingredient" line - in the context of a blend, a single malt is an ingredient. It is an ingredient that can be enjoyed on its own, or in a recipe with other ingredients. Depending on the recipe of a blend, the sum may be greater or less than its parts, but the single malt is an ingredient none the less.
And as for the nosing and savouring - I am sure I am not the only one who has wondered whether this might appear a tad pretentious to the uninitiated - especially when doing it to a dull or poor whisky - and especially when so many of these "tasters" come up with the same list of hackneyed notes whatever the whisky (I know someone who will always detect "something of the sea" in even the most inland whisky). I agree with Aidan upthread when he suggests that many amateur tasters would find even the Ardbeg 1977 less enjoyable if they mistakenly thought it was a blend - or even a malt from Speyside masquerading as Islay. I know I am swayed by the packaging, labelling and pricing; I am sure many others are too, however hard we wish we weren't.
The writer's tone is caustic. But I think it is a perfectly understandable reaction against some of the ill-informed single malt advocates we have all come across who belittle the product he enjoys and, by extension, belittle his sense of taste.
Let's all raise a glass to judging whiskies on their own merits.