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Issue 25 - Simply misunderstood

Whisky Magazine Issue 25
August 2002

 

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Simply misunderstood

Dave Broom sticks up for the overlooked 'oddball' of the whisky world, with some expert help

It was halfway through the tasting for the last issue that it struck me that no-one really understands what a vatted malt is: it's the poor relation of the whisky industry, not quite a blend, not quite a malt either. Vatted malts are so … marginal. The idea – a ‘blend' of single malts – is simple enough but as Richard Paterson claims, few consumers know what a vatted malt is meant to be like. “The consumer is confused as to what they are and the style isn't given the credit it should,” he says. “The fact they are not a single doesn't mean they are inferior. They have complexity, they're just a different style. The Corriemhor should be judged in the same way as a malt.”

John Ramsay takes a similar line. “They're not well understood by the majority,” he says adding – as any blender would – that a mix of malts should be and in many cases is better than single malt, age for age, as the blender has a broader base to draw from. “They suffer from a lack of provenance in the minds of those who understand the concept like yourself.” Well, that's me told, but I take his point. Do we just pay lip-service to them? Allow them to sit, slightly awkwardly, off to one side? Vatted malts are like the kid who doesn't join in at school, the oddball who is too much trouble to include in your games yet when you take time to talk to him ends up being your best friend.

For years it was possible to ignore vatted malts, yet recently the category has seen a mini-revival t...

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