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Malt vs. Grain content in blends

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Malt vs. Grain content in blends

Postby headlessparrot » Thu Sep 07, 2006 4:31 am

I've been floating around this forum for quite awhile, I'm a big fan of whisky, especially Scotch (though also bourbon and Canadian whisky), and I had a question that I've been pondering for awhile and was wondering if someone here might help.

I was wondering what the typical ratio of malt whisky to grain whisky is in most blends. I've read somewhere that a typical ratio is 60% grain to 40% malt, but this seems low, since Teacher's claims that its Highland Cream "has an exceptionally high malt content - at least 45%." And though I can't find the source, I'm almost positive that I read somewhere that many blends are as much as 80-85% grain whisky. Can anyone offer a more accurate figure?
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Postby corbuso » Thu Sep 07, 2006 1:02 pm

The ratio malt:grain for the different blends is a commercial secret and I have never been able to read the exact figure. The numbers you are mentioning are the one being often published and seem to be realistic.
I don't have the exact fgure in head for the whisky production for 2005, but the ratio malt:grain is a 1:5 ratio. Since about 0% of the grain whisky is sold as single grain and only 10% of malt sold as single malt, the average blend thus contains around 15% of malt and 85% of grain. Deluxe whiskies contains more malt, with Chivas around 30-40% of malt.

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Postby Lawrence » Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:39 pm

The blending houses keep the ratios secret for two reasons; a 'blend' is in fact a recipe and nobody wants to give away their secret recipe. Secondly it allows them to be flexible depending on what malt and grain whiskies are available to them, it will not always be the exact same recipe batch to batch.

Generally the more expensive blends have a higher malt content with older whiskies and the cheaper are the reverse.
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Postby Aidan » Thu Sep 07, 2006 4:49 pm

The only ratio I know for sure is in Black Bush - It's 80 percent malt and 20 percent grain. I know this is not sms, but ...
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Postby DramMeister » Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:16 pm

corbuso wrote: only 10% of malt sold as single malt

Do the distilleries sell their best malts as smw or do the blends get first call?
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:02 am

DramMeister wrote:Do the distilleries sell their best malts as smw or do the blends get first call?



It really depends on the Blend on the malt on the distillery... some distilleries don't want their whisky in blends, others produce specifically for blends ...

The blend in a lot of cases is the company's bread and butter whisky and as such they do have to make sure it is of good quality. I'm talking about well known like teachers. With the likes of JW Blue I would imagine that it would have precedence over a lot of malts.

But then you have the tartan blends as I call them which are really for the tourist trade and I'd say that this stuff is not far from the dreggs :wink:
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Postby corbuso » Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:33 pm

DramMeister wrote:
corbuso wrote: only 10% of malt sold as single malt

Do the distilleries sell their best malts as smw or do the blends get first call?


The 10% are for the industry in general. Some distillery sell 100% of their production as single malts, some 0%

Some distilleries sells their best malts directly as SMW. In other cases, the blending company is providing the casks directly to the blenders, so blenders might have some outsanding casks. Also, for single malts, some companies wants to retain the characteristic of their SMW and sells cask which differ too much from the regular "casks" to independant bottlers. Also, it should not be forgotten that the Distillers want to earn money. Blenders are for many companies the major client for some distilleries and the distillers will make sure that their best client is satisfied and may sell what is left as SMW.

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Postby Aidan » Fri Sep 08, 2006 5:06 pm

Ithink the greater margins for the distillery are made through malts.
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Postby corbuso » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:23 pm

Aidan wrote:Ithink the greater margins for the distillery are made through malts.


If you look at the margin per bottle, definitely. If the SMW production is very low, then the costs overcomes the benefits.

I don't think Diageo would sell again Lagavulin to blenders if they don't have to...

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