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To understand whisky, one has to understand Blends (JM)

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To understand whisky, one has to understand blends

Blends are whisky too
20
57%
Blends 90% market share - most people drink this
7
20%
I'm sending my blends to Nick and Lawrence
5
14%
Malts are whisky - full stop
3
9%
 
Total votes : 35

To understand whisky, one has to understand Blends (JM)

Postby Frodo » Sun Jul 02, 2006 8:14 am

While reading JM's Whisky Bible, I stumbled on an idea - Mr. Murray insists that to understand whisky, one had to understand blends as well as malts.

Interesting concept. I've decided that I need to explore this thinking. I realize that blends are considered the poor cousins on this forum. But comming from J. Murray, well...any thoughts???

PS - He's talking about scotch blends...
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:58 am

I drink as many bottles of blended whisky as I do malts, I'm a great admirer of the art of the blender, but to say that you have to understand blends before you can understand whisky is pure rubbish. As blended whisky is a mixture of malts (+grain) I'd say the reverse is nearer to the truth.

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Postby Scotty Mc » Sun Jul 02, 2006 1:31 pm

I think it is quite the reversal. I would say you have to understand singles to understand blends. After all, it is singles that make a blend although whisky in it's blended state has been 'around longer' so to speak.

Personally I don't like grain whiskies, which in turn means I don't like blends due to their mostly grain content. All a matter of personal taste

And I don't rate Jim Murray anyway :lol:
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:17 pm

At the same time people might not totally understand their single malts either. Not all blends contain grain whiskey. Then there are terms of vatted malt banded around also just to confuse people while at the same time trying to hang off the single malt coat tails.

However if you have a bottling of all malts from different distilleries this has generally got to be called a blend and you have a bottling from a single distillery which is a blending of a wide variety of different casks(which can be quite different from each other) this is called a single malt but which is better?????

People will naturally conclude that the single malt is better but there only reason for saying so is the single malt tag on the bottle and I still think people do not really understand that tag. Therefore they are being totally fooled by the single malt tag.

And sorry but I have to refuse to believe that the majority of single malt drinkers can distinguish grain whisky in a quality blend on a blind tasting. Of course you need to weed out out the many blends that are very much grain based but people also need to have a more open mind to quality blends (even if they contain grain) which need not be the most expensive either.

Basically people need to understand blending as a skill and how well the blender does his job, whether he is blending a single malt or a so called blend. People need try and forget single malt as the being the best (eventhough it is easier to know what your geting) and give blends the respect they deserve.

I know it is easier said than done and I get just as biased by single malts as any one else when it comes to scotch but in Ireland the blend is King and you have more superior Irish blends than Irish Single malts...

To me a true Single Malt should be a Single Cask offering... everything else is a blend (I await the howls of derision :wink: )
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Postby Lawrence » Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:53 pm

Well done Frodo, North America for me and Nick can have Europe, please PM me for my mailing address for the expected avalanche of unwanted bottles of blends. No half filled bottles please.

I also must add that I think people are missing the 'big picture' by not drinking and appreciating blends, they can be very enjoyable. As an added bonus in the warm weather you can add some ICE without feeling guilty about have committed a major sin.
Last edited by Lawrence on Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Di Blasi » Sun Jul 02, 2006 11:39 pm

I mostly drink single malt Scotch. But I do enjoy tasting a variety of whiskies though, grains, blends, whiskies from different countries, just to experience what else is out there, and to make sure I have a well rounded background and tasting experience. I'm starting to taste more blends, really looking forward to the Blue Hangar 25y, as it's non-chillfiltered and non colored, etc. Blends are whiskies too! And it's exciting to taste them and learn about what the master blender has created!
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Postby MGillespie » Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:18 am

Same here...as I mentioned in another thread, I had the chance to try some blending at an event the other night in NYC (details in the new episode of you know what...), and it was a real challenge trying to come up with something that worked. I don't have a problem with blends at all, and there's something to be said for understanding both blends and single malts...

Mark
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Postby laphroaig10_65 » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:09 am

Drinking blends is useful to understand why single malts are better.
Bye
Luca
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:50 am

Generally speaking I'd say single malts are more interesting, but I'm not sure they are nessecarily any better. But that's a subjective statement and I'm sure the vast majority of blend drinkers would disagree with me. I guess it's in the eye of the beholder. My honest opinion is that there is a blend out there just as good - or even better than many decent single malts and that is Jameson 12yo. I think it's better than Balvenie 15 Single Barrel and Talisker 10, Bruichladdich 10 and several others. Highly recommended by myself!

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Postby bamber » Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:27 am

I drink Scottish blends, but definitely prefer single malts to them, nearly all of the time.

Irish blends are different, with Jameson NAS, and Powers Gold, being 2 favourites of mine available at very low prices.

There does not seem to be that burnt toffee flavour you get in so many Scottish blends.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:57 am

I suppose with the plethora of Scottish blends it is hard to seperate the dross from the gloss ..... Further I suppose it is easier in relation to Irish blends as they are so few of them. Of course that is not to say there are not any bad ones either :shock: :wink:
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Postby Aidan » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:58 pm

Blends don't help you understand malts. What does understanding malts mean anyway?

You just have to like them.
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Postby les taylor » Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:11 pm

Johnnie Walker Black Label. A Blinding Whisky, enough said. Every whisky has its place. 8)
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Postby Frodo » Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:26 am

Aidan wrote:Blends don't help you understand malts. What does understanding malts mean anyway?


But the question really is - does understanding blends help one understand whisk(e)y?
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Postby Frodo » Tue Jul 04, 2006 4:32 am

laphroaig10_65 wrote:Drinking blends is useful to understand why single malts are better.
Bye
Luca


:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Aidan » Tue Jul 04, 2006 8:59 am

Frodo wrote:
Aidan wrote:Blends don't help you understand malts. What does understanding malts mean anyway?


But the question really is - does understanding blends help one understand whisk(e)y?


But what's there to understand about whiskey? I can't imagine going to a restaurant and the waiter saying "did you enjoy your steak" and replying "no, because I didn't understand it." There's nothing intellectual about whisky. You understand calculus or philosophy and the like, but not drinks.

If I'm wrong, I'll have to devote my life to studying the SodaStream.
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Postby bamber » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:03 am

If you understand the soda stream, it is just as it is. If you do not understand it, it is just as it is.

This does not include cola flavoured concentrate, which is just as it was.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:20 am

bamber wrote:If you understand the soda stream, it is just as it is. If you do not understand it, it is just as it is.

This does not include cola flavoured concentrate, which is just as it was.


I'm confused :!: :!: :!:

.

because the end of the begining is the begining of the end :?: :?: :?:


:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Aidan » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:53 am

bamber wrote:If you understand the soda stream, it is just as it is. If you do not understand it, it is just as it is.

This does not include cola flavoured concentrate, which is just as it was.


So SodaStream is as SodaStream does?
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Postby Scotty Mc » Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:02 am

Aidan wrote:So SodaStream is as SodaStream does?


Indeed! :D
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Postby bamber » Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:05 am

Just so - it is just as it is.
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Postby Aidan » Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:22 am

It all makes sense now. I feel like Buddah sitting under the Bohdi tree, with a whisky in one hand and a pressurised carbon dioxide injection system in the other.

If only I could translate these moments of clear prespective into more practical persuits.
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Postby bamber » Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:47 am

Time to get 'fizzy with the busy'.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:04 pm

I have stumbled over this thread rather late in the day and am flattered to be named in the poll. I suspect I have already have enough whisky already to last me through this liver and then next, though.

I think JM's point is that there is more to whisky than single malts - and definitely more to whisky than Scotch single malts. If you want to understand whisk(e)y, then you have to understand malts, grains, blends, pot still, corn, rye, Canadian maple syrup - the whole gamut.

Even the single malt isolationists who turn their nose up at all other whiskies ought to have some [very basic] understanding of what they are rejecting and why - otherwise it would be as arbitrary as restricting oneself to the products of the Glen Company.
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To understand whisky...

Postby Muskrat Portage » Tue Jul 04, 2006 6:57 pm

I have to admit that I enjoy a blend sometimes instead of a single malt. I actually enjoy nosing the blend and being able to discern some of the Single Malts that are integral to the structure of the blend. It has taken a while to get here though, in my misguided youth (20s) I'd much prefer a SM over a blend. Now in my 50's, I enjoy the blend or the SM dependant on what my tastebuds are craving.

This begs asking the question: "Could I live with just Famous Grouse if SM were no longer offered or priced beyond my reach?"

...Yes.

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Postby Paul A Jellis » Tue Jul 04, 2006 7:37 pm

Why should I understand whisky? It doesn't understand me!

Cheers, Paul
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:17 pm

Paul A Jellis wrote:Why should I understand whisky? It doesn't understand me!

Cheers, Paul


I stand under whiskey as much as possible :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Frodo » Sat Jul 08, 2006 6:49 am

bamber wrote:There does not seem to be that burnt toffee flavour you get in so many Scottish blends.


Lighbulb moment :idea: ! That's exactly what I associate cheap scotch blends with.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:38 pm

bamber wrote:Time to get 'fizzy with the busy'.


Has anyone tried "fizzy whisky"? We tried it as an experiment when I was sooo much younger - 15, I think. First off we filled the sodstream bottle to the mark with vodka. It just about blew up. So we moderated the amount to about an inch or so - and used a whisky instead (can't remember which one) It really works :lol:

There is nothing wrong with blended whisky but there is more probability of it being poorer than SMW, purepy down to the sheer volume that is produced.

I disagree that we need to "understand" anything about whisky, blended or otherwise. What do we need to be able to do, hpwever, is to recognise certain flavours and characteristics to enable a personal judgement as to whether one whisk(e)y is preferable to another.
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Postby rthomson » Mon Jul 10, 2006 4:13 am

I can't say that I "understand" whisky. I read tasting notes in WM and elsewhere and at best pick out 1/3 of the characteristics mentioned. Still, I know what I like. I agree with JM that we shouldn't just write off blends, Alberta Premium is a prime example, but I don't make any claim to "understanding" whisky.

Ron
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Postby scoobypl » Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:50 am

rthomson wrote:I can't say that I "understand" whisky. I read tasting notes in WM and elsewhere and at best pick out 1/3 of the characteristics mentioned. Still, I know what I like.

Ron


Since my lightbulb :idea: moment, I do not consider the word of so-called "experts" as an "absolute" guideline ...
Being a (very) good writer, and being genuinely interested in whisky, may lead you to writing a book about it (which is often a very good thing! don't get me wrong... I have about 70 books to prove I value that highly!) but that does not necessarily make you an expert. (it does provide good 'growing ground' though!)

My lightbulb moment :idea: was in 1994... I had been tasting and collecting whisky for almost 10 years... and a very well known whisky writer conducted a tasting in Brussels.... After the tasting, I offered him a blind sample of something I considered to be one of the benchmark whisky's at the time.... Bowmore 17yo OB.
To his credit :wink:, he was really liking it, considering it to be of very high quality. (And that was indeed the case with Bowmore 17 in the late 80-ties).... Turned out however, It was his first tasting ever of the Bowmore 17!!!!! So, that reveered whisky connoisseur, writer of several books on the subject, had never tasted Bowmore 17 before.... Now that 'revelation' rocked my boat a little, I can assure you! :wink: It was akin to hearing a renowned fysicist admit he had never heard of Einstein's Relativity Theory... :wink:
Now, at least another 10 years have past, and I hold this guy in even greater esteem than before, because he has been building and growing in the business, and last but not least, he has not 'outgrown' his audience! And he has written some books I consider to be 'modern Classics', and that show how he matured in the world of whisky. I value him greatly, and I do consider him an expert, but i'll keep remembering giving him his first sip of Bowmore 17! Made him human after all! 8) :wink:
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Postby mrt » Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:08 am

Well, it's quite good to see that not everybody here humiliates the blends.
Afterall, the blends are also products of a special craftmanship. One shouldn't be supposed to humiliate sth. just becouse it sells huge amounts!

Blends have a great contribution to the Scotch Whisky's worldwide popularity.

By the way, do you usually sip the blends as well as malts, or do you prefer them for mixing?
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:43 pm

To understand JM one, first, has to consume an awful lot of whisky!

Cheers, Paul
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Postby Aidan » Sun Jul 16, 2006 7:49 pm

Lets not forget that most whisky experts are just spoofers who've landed on their feet.
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Postby mrt » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:17 pm

Though I usually prefer bourbon and drink neat, tonight I poured two oz. JW Red Label over ice cubes and topped up with schwepps tonic water. It was really good for a summer evening. JW Red Label may be a better choice for mixing with tonic, becouse bourbon and tonic mix. is likely to be so sweet. I'll try again, though.

That's..blends have their own place as well as others, IMO.
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