blended-whisky

Blended Whisky

Blended whisky is often where the newly acquainted get their start, and for good reason. Smooth, adaptable, and with a typically gentler price tag, blended whiskies are a wonderful way to explore and experiment before finding your trademark brand and blend. Although single malt whisky snobs frequently turn their noses up at blends, deeming them less than worthy of prestigious consideration, blended whiskies nonetheless account for approximately 90% of whisky sales around the world. In recent years blended whiskey has undergone something of a renaissance, with distillers and devotees alike approaching an old tradition with new appreciation. Here is everything you need to know about blended whiskey before you begin your journey.

History & Origins

One of the most common misconceptions regarding blended whiskey is that it is somehow inferior to a single malt. While we obviously know this to be untrue, it’s worth considering where this bias comes from. Whisky blending stems from the 19th century practice of distilleries blending a variety of different whiskies together in order to meet consumer demand without stretching their supplies or devoting too much of a single top-tier spirit to one product. The result was a surprisingly smoother, lighter, and more accessible spirit than the traditional single malt. It wasn’t long before people began to favour blended whiskies, with distillers taking even less time to incorporate blends into their output. History points to two individuals as the founders of blended whiskey: Aeneas Coffey and Andrew Usher. Coffey invented the Coffey Still, also called the Patent Still, in 1831, which would soon be adopted by distillers for blending their Scotch whiskies. Thirty years later, Edinburgh native Andrew Usher would perfect the art of blending whisky for a mainstream market still wary of consuming an “inferior” whisky product. The American prohibition, which would last from 1920 to 1933, saw the illicit production and trade of whisky, with Irish and Scottish distilleries experiencing a significant spike in demand upon its repeal. By the 1950s whisky was in high demand on both sides of the Atlantic; so much so that distillers were prompted to revisit the art of blending, as well as come up with new cocktails, in order to meet public favour.

How Is Blended Whisky Made?

A blended malt whiskey is created by mixing two or more single malt whiskies, usually from different distilleries and of differing qualities, together and ageing accordingly. A blended Scotch whiskey, the most popular whiskey blend in the world, is created using both grain and malt whiskies. Here is an example of how a distiller might produce a blended whiskey:
  • First the blender selects their “lead” malt whiskies, which will determine the taste and quality of the finished product.
  • The lead whiskies are then blended with other malt and grain whiskies, which can be of equal or lesser cost value, and aged according to the distiller’s taste before being bottled and distributed.
  • It’s important to note that the age listed on a blended whiskey label refers to the amount of time the distiller has aged the blended spirits as a finished product, and not the age of the whiskies prior to blending.

What Are The Blended Whisky Regulations By Country?

1. United States

An American blend of straight whiskies contains one or more whiskies that may have been produced in different states, with added colors, flavours, and “blending materials,” but no neutral grain spirits. Blends that contain a minimum of 51% straight whisky of one type–malt, wheat, bourbon, or rye–must be listed on the label.

2. Canada

The majority of Canadian whiskies are blends, with the term itself used fairly loosely. A Canadian whisky may be any grain spirit aged for at least three years in Canada, with added flavour and colouring components.

3. Ireland

The Republic of Ireland’s Department of Agriculture determines the definition and labeling of a blended whiskey. An Irish blended whiskey must contain two or more pot still, grain, and/or malt whisky varieties.

4. Scotland

According to Scottish whisky regulations, a blended malt Scotch whisky must contain one or more single malt Scotch whiskies from an equal number of distilleries, while a blended grain Scotch whisky must consist of two or more single grain whiskies. All spirits must be distilled and aged in Scotland.

How Can I Drink Blended Whisky?

Blended whiskey comes in a variety of flavour profiles and price points, which essentially means you can consume it any way you want. It’s generally advised that more expensive blends be taken neat or with water in order to savour their quality, while mid to lower range blends can be enjoyed in one of many expert cocktails (see the next section).

Blended Whiskey Cocktails To Try

   
whisky-sour-blended-whisky

Whisky Sour

This classic cocktail favourite is a great way to put your blended whiskey to use without marring the original flavours.
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1

Equipment

  • cocktail shaker
  • cocktail strainer

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ounces Blended Whisky
  • 3/4 ounces Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 ounces Simple Syrup
  • 3 drops Aromatic Bitters
  • 1 Cherry/Lemon Slice To garnish

Instructions
 

  • Mix all of the ingredients with ice in the cocktail shaker
  • Shake
  • Strain and pour over ice
  • Add cherry/lemon to garnish
Keyword american whisky, blended whisky, blended whisky cocktail, whisky cocktail
old-fashioned

Old Fashioned

Another popular classic that can be traced back to the 19th century, this timeless cocktail is a longtime favourite of cocktail connoisseurs.
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1

Equipment

  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Stirring Spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ounces Blended Whisky
  • 1/4 ounces Simple Syrup
  • 3 drops Aromatic Bitters
  • 1 Cherry/Lemon Twist To garnish

Instructions
 

  • Add the ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass and stir with one ice cube
  • Gradually add more ice cubes and continue to stir
  • Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist
Keyword blended whisky, blended whisky cocktail, whisky, whisky cocktail

Early Fall Lowball

A warm and spicy autumnal twist on the Old Fashioned, this is the perfect festive cocktail for cooler seasons.
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Drinks

Equipment

  • cocktail shaker
  • cocktail strainer
  • Short Glass

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ounces Blended Whisky
  • 2 ounces Chai Tea
  • 1/2 ounce Orange Curacao
  • 3 drops Bitters
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon To garnish

Instructions
 

  • Mix all the ingredients in the cocktail shaker with ice
  • Shake and then strain in to a short glass over ice
  • Add cinnamon sticks to garnish
Keyword blended whisky, blended whisky cocktail, whisky, whisky cocktail
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