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Blends are better than malts!!?

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Blends are better than malts!!?

Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:52 am

Hi there,

at http://www.peatfreak.com I just found this article. In another thread here in this forum the Admiral posted the joke about a man claiming that blends are better than malts.

Somebody took this very seriously. Please read for yourself.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0, ... 18,00.html

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Postby bamber » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:57 am

The man has no taste. Trust the times to 'de-intellectualise' anything it can get its hands on.
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Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 22, 2005 10:39 am

Well, I think blends can be just as good as malts. Blends cover the entire spectrum, from crap to brilliant. So do malts. I think it's best to take each whisky on its merits.
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Postby bamber » Fri Jul 22, 2005 10:59 am

I agree in priciple Aidan (I've not had enough quality blends to really comment), but this guy is rubishing SMS and its appreciation:

"....malt is not an improvement on blended whisky. It is one of its ingredients. A whisky blender combines malt and grain whiskies to create a whole greater then the sum of its parts."

Maybe, but it depends on the quality of the original components. I like fruit salad but .....

"The industry has done well to persuade the gullible to worship malt. But much of it is the equivalent of beaujolais nouveau — an expensive waste prized by fools....."

That is fighting talk :x
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Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:04 am

Unfortunately, a lot of blends use worn out casks and poor stock. Of course, older casks can be used to good effect.

I don't agree with the writer, but I do think that they stuck a label with "blend" on a great whiskey like Ardbeg 1977, less "experts" would wax on about its virtues.

Also, if he was saying things the other way around (replace blend with malt), nobody would complain.
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:44 am

Hi there,

what struck me, me a declared and dedicated malt lover was the radical view on the relationship of malts and blends. We all know and agree that without blends our malts would live a life in secret. It can not be argued that the blends bring the money for the industry. But that a blend creates something which is more than the sum of its parts? Nothing against blends and their fans. BUT: The intention behind the development of blending was to level out the characteristics and individuality of the malts. In 1860 or therabouts the single malts were considered to be unsellable outside of Scotland. We all know what happened then and how blended scotch set out to conquer the world. The introduction of grain whisky and the "alocoholising down" of the then too powerfull malts to make them palpaple to palates used to wine and cognac is a success story but the aim of creating blends was dilution not creating something far better. To call a malt an ingredient is insulting.
Nothing against blends and the connoisseurs who drink them. There a very good blends on the market. And there are blends that do not meassure up. These are very good as ointments in external application to treat aching muscles or ailing joints.

In a word the man is wrong - or just provoking toward an unknown goal.

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Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 22, 2005 12:02 pm

Hi Killankander

I don't think you can be wrong or right about this. There's no such things as facts when it comes to taste. Although, I think if the writer was serious about what he was claiming, he would name some of the great blends.

The reason they started making blends is because the grain element was produced very cheaply and in large volumes. This has to do with economics, but it doesn't mean it can't produce somethign brilliant.

The use of some unmalted barley in Irish whiskey was originally to reduce the bill on taxed malt, but I think pure pot still Irish whiskey is the best whisk(e)y in the world. It wasn't driven by demand, but it worked. This is just my belief, though, so nobody can say I'm right or wrong, although I know someone will try.
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Postby bamber » Fri Jul 22, 2005 12:22 pm

The best Scottish blend I've tatsed is Ballantines 17YO, then probably JW Gold (someway behind). The Ballantines 17YO, I bought off JM's recommendation (he scored it 96). It was expensive - about £45 in duty free but I would buy it again.

I'd like to think I keep an open mind, but I found the tone of this man's article aggravating.

It's good to try new things. I had some Japanese whisky in the SMWS bar on Saturday and it was fantastic - finished wholly in charred virgin oak, it was like no other whisky I've ever tatsed (Jameson Gold did obviously spring to mind). Apparently a lot of members are down on it because it is not Scotch. Ludicrous.

I can't wait to properly explore Irish pot still whisky properly - I know I'm going to adore that too :)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 12:51 pm

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.
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 22, 2005 1:07 pm

Hi there,

I would readily agree, Aidan that there can be no real argument about taste and personal preference. But the patronising tone of this article, the claim that drinking malt is a expensive waste of time, that we are all victims, gullible and outright let´s say less intelligent, because we drink the wrong whisky is laying it on a bit too thick. That we all were and are further seduced by the industry to drink expensive whisky which by the attitude and tone of this pamphlet is defined as second class goes against my grain. If that were so, I say were, we would all be victims of the blend producing industry. What else? So there is an inconsistancy in the argument of the author. Malt and blend whisky industry are identical. What does he want to say?
It is true that single malts have increased their share in the market by x% and blends lost y%. And of course are y% in the blend market millions more then x% in the malt market. But why panic in such a way? There is no end to the blending business in sight. That sounds to me like somebody is trying to create a new reality by ignoring the one already existing.

@ bamber There are 2 pot still whiskies from Ireland in circulation. One is Redbreast the other Green Spot. There are some very old and expensive bottlings of older pot still whiskey on the market. Knappogue Castle offers a 36 year old pure pot still from now defunct Tullamore Distillery, distilled 1956.
Powers Gold Label and Gold Label 12 years is said to contain a high amount of pure pot still whiskey. If that is not Redbreast or Green Spot in there that would mean that pure pot still is still made but obviously not sold. That stands to reason. They need some basic whiskies for their blends.
Cooley calls some of their whiskies "pure pot still" but are talking about the way the distill them, not about what kind of whiskies they are. Most Cooley whiskies are no pure pot still.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 1:50 pm

I don't think the article does assert that blends are better than malts - merely that malts are not de facto superior. I have certainly felt like a gullible fool when I have parted with serious money for an interesting sounding malt that turns out to disappoint.

I think that a lot of whisky drinkers are seduced by pretty labels, (misspelt) Gaelic labelling, suggestions of quaint distilleries run by benefactors in dingly dells. I hear tell of one distillery that has even created a designer malt especially intended to be drunk with ice! The writer does acknowledge that there are good malts and pretty distilleries, but it is the hectoring tone of some whisky snobs that he is objecting to who will not let him enjoy his blended whisky. He has my sympathy.

I would agree that much malt whisky is an expensive waste that is bought by gullible people who could not taste the difference between a Claymore and a Cragganmore. But as long as we are happy that we get value for the malts that we buy, there is nothing in the article to offend us.

So let's continue to drink the best of single malts, blends, bourbons, Irish, Japanese and Sullivan's Sock whilst leaving others to enjoy their own passions, whatever they may be.
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Postby bamber » Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:14 pm

kallaskander,

I (think) I tried Red Breast and Green Spot many years ago before I tried to appreciate whisky and usually just drunk Jack Daniels or cheap blends. I honestly can't remember them but they were probably necked without analysis. Did not know that would be the end of the exploration :(
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:35 pm

I tried Jack Daniels a couple of months ago in an airport lounge (because I could). It was everso-everso sweet but well worth trying in small quantities.

In terms of Pot Still, I bought a bottle of Old Comber from my local Winemark off licence when I lived in Belfast. I knew nothing about the whiskey other than the enigmatic label which said: at least 30 years old.

I later discovered, after drinking but not enjoying about half the bottle (far too woody) that the distillery had been closed in 1953. In the 1980s, someone had been wandering through the old distillery and found a couple of barrels still full of whiskey. They knew the wiskey must be over 30 years old since the distillery had been closed for over 30 years, but knew nothing more about it. It was sold at mid price (c£40 a bottle in the mid 1990s). It now goes for around £400 a bottle. If only I'd known...
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Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:58 pm

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

I would readily agree, Aidan that there can be no real argument about taste and personal preference. But the patronising tone of this article, the claim that drinking malt is a expensive waste of time, that we are all victims, gullible and outright let´s say less intelligent, because we drink the wrong whisky is laying it on a bit too thick. That we all were and are further seduced by the industry to drink expensive whisky which by the attitude and tone of this pamphlet is defined as second class goes against my grain. If that were so, I say were, we would all be victims of the blend producing industry.
Greetings
kallaskander


Hi kallaskander,

I'd agree with you on this, alright. But there is room for a patronising blend drinker like this writer to balance out all the ones on the other side.

Anyway, it's started a good debate...
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Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:05 pm

[quote="AidanBut there is room for a patronising blend drinker like this writer to balance out all the ones on the other side.

Anyway, it's started a good debate...[/quote]

That's not aimed at anyone here, by the way...
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Postby bamber » Fri Jul 22, 2005 4:21 pm

Nick Brown wrote:I tried Jack Daniels a couple of months ago in an airport lounge (because I could). It was everso-everso sweet but well worth trying in small quantities. (snip)


I still drink it now and then. Certainly prefer it to a few bourbons but a long way from being a favourite.

Old Comber, £400 - ourch :shock:
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Jul 22, 2005 5:25 pm

It's a good debate and as you have all quite correctly pointed out, it's not the way we all feel. I like both blends and malts but have found more to my taste on the malt side of the balance sheet. While blends contain both grain and malt whiskies I think the overall effect can be to mute both parts rather than to make them into something greater than their sum.

As to whisky people being snobs that's just a load of cr*p, it's simply not true. From his own words the author simply wants to drink at the end of the day, a replacement for his smokes.

If he just wants to drink maybe he should spend some time with some of the lesser white spirits.
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Postby Iain » Fri Jul 22, 2005 6:07 pm

He's a columnist and I s'pose it's his job to be controversial and stir folks up. No harm done, and there are some uncomfortable measures of truth in there - surely most folks have encountered the odd boorish, snobbish or patronising sms drinker.

However, re the statement that "malt is not an improvement on blended whisky. It is one of its ingredients." That's just silly? Beef is an ingredient of Lorne sausage, but I'd rather dine on steak than a sausage :D

As for him just wanting a drink - he's surely entitled to end the day with a large glass of whisky, blend or sms. That's what I do, when I want a drink. Why should he drink "lesser white spirits"?
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Postby Wendy » Fri Jul 22, 2005 6:16 pm

I find it interesting that when a person asserts a strong point of view, they are compelled to damn everything else around them. In Mr. Luckhurst’s article titled, “Whisky bores galore”, he is no exception to this rule. Aside from being distracted by his sardonic tone, I think he does make a couple of interesting points with reference to the general climate of exclusivity verses inclusivity of your whisky tasting experience, the fickle wave of populace opinion and being priced out of a market you care a lot about. I personally don’t struggle with someone standing firm in one camp over the other. But, in the same breathe, I also don’t think their preference is more sophisticated or legitimate just different. On my whisky tasting journey, I hope there will always be room for both single malts and blends. You may never know what good thing you may have passed up.

Finally, I came away from the article wondering if Mr. Luckhurst simply needs new drinking buddies; he is upset “by friends clamouring to discuss my choice” and armed with visions of the “mystical brotherhood of elves”, “silken skin maidens” and ‘Cuban virgins”…on second thought, you lads may want to organize a group intervention and invite his friends over to the forum! :roll:
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Postby bernstein » Fri Jul 22, 2005 6:34 pm

...and Mr. Luckhurst of course! :wink:
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Jul 22, 2005 6:38 pm

As for him just wanting a drink - he's surely entitled to end the day with a large glass of whisky, blend or sms. That's what I do, when I want a drink. Why should he drink "lesser white spirits"?



Yes, he's entitled to drink whatever he wants. Please don't make a connection between what I wrote about a columnist and what you choose to drink.

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Canadian Club 15

Postby Wendy » Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:59 am

At the risk of embarrasing myself, I can't figure out how to post a question! :shock: So I am going to post it in this thread.

To those that have tasted Canadian Club 15, what are your impressions?

I must admit that I am sometimes a gullible consumer and have been recenty drawn to this expression mainly because it is being sold in Collectible tin boxes featuring Canadian wildlife scenes. The tin series is quite beautiful. I don't know how extensive the series is, but I have seen three different boxes. On the cover, each tin box depicts a scene of a Canadian black bear, moose and beaver and on the sides the Canadian Rockies and geese. It is very tastefully done. It is being sold for $39.95. It would be an expensive tin box, if the contents didn't measure up. I look forward to your comments. Thanks.
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Sat Jul 23, 2005 5:23 am

Canadian Club although not a premium rye by any means but descent coke and gingerale fodder. The taste of Canadian rye whiskey gets interresting after 18yrs or so. The 15yr old C.C. is smooth and has some nice flavors going on and is very drinkable, but nothing special. I say buy it for the fancy container, but at $40cdn for a 26er of slightly better than bar-rye, the container is weighing in at about $10cdn plus and that is a little dear. Of if you buy one tomorrow, of course you're most likely to see some of the set at a garage-sale for a dollar a piece five years from now.
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Sat Jul 23, 2005 5:55 am

Regarding the blend vs sms:
I'm looking for a blend that smells and tastes like a good Islay single malt. Like i'm gonna find one :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby kallaskander » Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:36 am

Hi there,

My Lord, try to find a bottle of "Black Bottle". It states on the label that it contains all Islay whiskies. On the island itself it is the dram of the natives. I`m not entirely sure wether it is a blend or a vatted malt. But it is all Islay.

Mr Luckhurst, by the way, wrote in a cloumn called "Thunderer". Why he has to storm against malt drinkers I can not imagine. I have not met some of his friends that sneer when he drinks a blend. His article is very pointed, exaggarated und unfair to some extend. But I readily admit that there is also a grain of truth in his observations. Wonder if he himself ever had a good malt, or three or five or more. I think he would see the world with other eyes if he did.

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Postby Iain » Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:58 am

Milord, Islay Mist has been known to fool a few people in blind tastings...
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Re: Canadian Club 15

Postby bernstein » Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:35 am

Wendy wrote:At the risk of embarrasing myself, I can't figure out how to post a question! :shock: So I am going to post it in this thread.


Hi Wendy - just click the relevant button Image on either the forum or topic screens.
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Postby Wendy » Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:09 pm

Hi L_P,
Thanks for the advice re Canadian Club 15. I haven't quite made up my mind, but (at the end of the day) it sounds like an expensive tin box.

Thank you Bernstein; it is sometimes very easy to miss the obvious! I hope you have a great run today.

Regards,
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