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Issue 45 - All a matter of taste

Whisky Magazine Issue 45
January 2005


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All a matter of taste

Pip Hills has compiled a directory comparing the taste profile of some leading malts and blends – and has reached some startling conclusions. Here he explains

If your only source of information was the pages of this magazine, you might think that most folk who drink whisky drink malts, not blended whiskies. If your source was overheard conversations, you would get the same message.

It's not uncommon to hear people in upmarket bars comparing malts, but it's a long time since you heard disputes about the virtues of rival blends. It used to be common enough – in Scottish pubs at any rate – but no longer.

Blended whiskies seem to have dropped out of sight and connoisseurs of whisky these days never seem to drink anything but malts. This is odd when you think that that nine out of 10 bottles
of Scotch sold around the world contain blended whisky.

It's a fair bet that most of the people reading this simply assume that malt whiskies are generally superior in flavour to blends. The argument runs that since blends are a mixture of malt whisky,
which is tasty, with grain whisky, which is not so tasty, a single malt must be nicer than a blend.

I know this proposition well, having advanced it long ago, at a time when few folk had even heard of malt whisky. At that time it was a lot more fun to make such an argument than it is now, for it
was new and in some quarters considered offensive.

It was also more likely to be true than it would be today, for the quality of blended whiskies has improved enormously over the last few decades. So is the proposition true today? And how are we to
know whether it is or not? Is it fair to judge both ...

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