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Issue 43 - Depends on the blend

Whisky Magazine Issue 43
October 2004


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Depends on the blend

Blended whisky is most often considered a poor relation to single malts.

Blended whisky is most often considered a poor relation to single malts. And when you consider that 90 per cent of whisky sold is in this category, much of it of questionable quality and with no restraints on the age (above the legal minimum of three years) of the whisky nor on its malt content, then perhaps this should come as no surprise.

Bland blends clog up supermarket and liquor store shelves across the world, and many bottles in their dispute of smoothness have dispensed with the need for taste altogether.

But at its best blended whisky is every bit as challenging and attractive as all but the very best malts. Indeed, the very best blends are founded on weighty and aged quality whisky, and the blender's skill is to add to that very high base camp and take the drink in to the sublime.

Even relatively inexpensive blends from the bigger companies are creditable examples of a different but legitimate style of whisky. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse. Just different.

Below Ian Buxton explores whisky's final frontier and the world of super premium blends. And on page 23, we provide a definitive AZ of the world's best blends.

Shock! £60 or more for a bottle of blend. Horror! Whisky served straight from the freezer. Nightmare! Whisky with exotic fruits – the world of super-premium blends is quite an alarming place for whisky traditionalists.

But they're fighting a rearguard action. The world is embracing these luxury blends with gusto – except, it seems,...

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