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Issue 64 - With the grain

Whisky Magazine Issue 64
June 2007


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With the grain

Ian Wisniewski delves in to the role of grains in a blend

Blended Scotch is a prime example of a speciality that evolved from a practicality. Malt whiskies were originally considered too robust for typical palates, particularly as peating was standard practise, so blending malts with grain whiskies, from the 1860s, resulted in a style that was easier to enjoy, and so generated a broader appeal.

However, a readily accessible flavour is only one aspect of what blends have to offer.

“If you try to get into a blend you'll find more varied flavour than a single malt,” says Robert Hicks of Beam Global.

Glenmorangie's Rachel Barrie concurs: “The more complex a product is the harder it is to dissect. Blended Scotch weaves together all the characteristics that can be discovered in the whole category of Scotch whisky.” Discussing the composition of a blend invariably focuses on the malts rather than grain whisky, which makes sense, as single malts are far more familiar. And with so little grain whisky bottled, how illuminating would it be to stipulate the grains in a blend anyway? However, with limited knowledge of what grain whiskies have to offer, there's an unfortunate, and lingering notion that grain whiskies only make a minimal contribution to a blend, and are merely capable of ‘mellowing' more intense malts.

“It's a myth that grain whisky only adds volume. Grain whisky has a very important role to play in a blend,” says Colin Scott of Chivas Bros.

Sandy Hislop of Chivas Bros continues the theme: “Grains definitely m...

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