The Difference Between a Single Malt and Blended Whisky

What is a Single Malt Whisky?

Put simply, “Single” means it is the product of one distillery, and “Malt” is the malted barley which is used to produce a Single Malt Whisky. By law, a distillery can only produce a single malt whisky by producing it entirely on their grounds using 100% malted barley. 

Single Malt Whisky is more expensive than Blended Whisky. This is due to two factors: the cost of production and the amount of time it takes to mature. Barley is more expensive than the grains which are used to produce Blended Whiskies. Age is another factor. It is not uncommon to see bottles of Single Malt Whiskies which are 12, 15 or 18 years old. 

 

The age statement represents the amount of time a whisky has matured in a cask. The more mature a Single Malt Cask is the more expensive it becomes, as it has significantly improved in quality. There are fewer aged casks available for bottling which makes them more expensive. Older casks have experienced more evaporation meaning there is less whisky available in a cask for bottling, creating a supply and demand dynamic. 

What is a Blended Whisky?

A Blended Whisky is a combination of Single Malt and Grain Whiskies. By Law, all blended Whisky must contain at least 15% Single Malt. The grains which are used to produce blended whiskies are cheaper than barley which is used to produce Single Malts.

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Blended whiskies are not aged for as long as Single Malts. Scotch Whisky must be aged for a minimum of 3 years to legally classed a Scotch. Because blends are not aged for as long as Single Malts there are more casks readily available for bottling making them cheaper to produce and purchase. 

 

For example, Johnny Walker Blue Label (pictured) is a blend of over 40 different whiskies. 

 

We only advise on the ownership of Single Malt Whisky Casks. This is because they’re more desirable for bottling and command far higher prices. Their role in the Blended market is also integral. This allows the resale of casks to both the Single Malt and Blended market.