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Issue 46 - What a mix up

Whisky Magazine Issue 46
March 2005


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What a mix up

When is a blend, not a blend? When it's a vatted malt.

When is a blend, not a blend? When it's a vatted malt. For the Scotch Whisky Association has decided that the best way to end the confusion over definitions of various styles of whisky is to redefine ‘vatted malt Scotch whisky' as ‘blended malt Scotch whisky'. This is to distinguish them from ‘blended Scotch whisky'.

Am I missing something here?

As I understand it the move to clear up misunderstandings and ‘grey areas' was as a result of the Cardhu row from a while back. If you recall, there were two main objections to Diageo's plan to turn a single malt whisky product called Cardhu in to a vatted product.

First, that the new vatted product was continuing to use the name ‘Cardhu' even though the product was no longer from one distillery. And second, it was describing the new product as ‘pure malt' as opposed to ‘single malt.' Both these factors resulted in what was at best confusing to the general public and at worst, downright misleading. It was decided that something had to be done.

So the SWA has now proposed a code of practice that rightly says it is no longer acceptable for a product from various distilleries to bear the name of just one. So far, fine. Its attempt to clear up the definitions, though, is a total mess.

The phrase ‘blended malt Scotch whisky' – or ‘blended malts'– is misleading and inappropriate because it takes the one word that was previously well-defined in all this – blends – and allows it to cross the river from the bank ...

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