Blended Malt

What? A mixture of whiskies from different distilleries, but all of them made from a malted barley mash and distilled in pot stills. It differs from Blended Whisky in that there is no grain whisky included in the mix. Until 2009, Blended Malts were called Pure or Vatted Malts, but the Scotch Whisky Association outlawed that description on the grounds that it was confusing to consumers.

Where? Scotland holds all the cards here, with its 100 or so malt whisky producing distilleries allowing the blender plenty to play with. The Japanese have treated the world with crackers from Nikka's blenders though, and when the skill is in sourcing and selection we are sure more will appear from around the world in years to come.

When? Blended Malts have only recently risen to prominance, but a number are beginning to operate as popular and powerful brands. Monkey Shoulder was launched in 2005 by William Grants, and that now feels like something of a landmark, as it cemented the work of John Glaser's Compass Box from 2000 onwards.

How? As a rule, drink it as you would a Single Malt (neat, a bit of water, or ice if you feel). Brands such as Monkey Shoulder do a lot of great work with cocktails, and as consistency of character is the very point of blending malts it makes sense for budding bartenders to favour them over idiosyncratic single malts.

Where To Start? Apart from those already mentioned, smoke fans should check out Big Peat, Japan should be very proud of Nikka All Malt and Poit Dhubh 30 Year Old is a really good value super-aged whisky.

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