Single Malt Scotch

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  • thommes
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    @SlàinteMhath

    Thanks for the suggestion. I can get that at my grocery and will likely buy it this week and give it a try.
  • SlàinteMhath Member SlàinteMhath Joined: 09.10.2016Posts: 134CollectionOslo Whisky ClubRatings: 153
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    thommes said:
    So the new question is, do distilleries make many single malts that actually come from different batches?
    Cask maturation might differ. Take Highland Park 12 as an example: The malt is matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry cask and is combined in a 80:20 ratio prior to bottling. Many Single Malts contain a certain percentage sherry-matured whisky to increase the complexity of the malt.

    Remember that the age statement on a bottle refers to the youngest malt in the 'blend'. Sometimes it is required to add some older malt to achieve a certain effect. Batch consistency is utterly important: If you buy a bottle of a well-known Single Malt, you have an expectation of what you buy. The masterblender will use the casks which are necessary to maintain the house style.

    That's what I do. I drink, and I know things.” (Tyrion Lannister)

    >>> Whisky reviews by Slàinte Mhath <<<

    hwchoy liked that
  • hwchoy Member hwchoy Joined: 28.07.2015Posts: 462CollectionHeng Wah’s CollectionRatings: 3
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    thommes said:
    @kroman ;

    Your explanation of a batch is my conception of a single malt. The batch all came from the same stills at the same time, was aged in the same type of casks for the same length, combined after aging, and then bottled. 

    I think you are forcing a very narrow idea on to whiskymaking which is ultimately about the malt master creating a taste profile he wanted to achieve.  for example, there are single malts with a mixture of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry vatted together (note this is not the same as finishing in sherry cask) to create a certain taste profile.
  • thommes
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    @SlàinteMhath ;

    I might be more confused than I know. When I read a lable that states matured in oak and sherry casks, I sort of pictured that the batch was first matured for x years in oak casks and then the scotch in those casks were transferred to sherry casks to finish maturing. From your response, I think I have that wrong and the scotch is a blend of a batch that was matured x years in oak casks and a different batch that has been aging for y years in sherry casks. These two are then blended together by a master blender to come up with the expected taste of the consumer. See that to me is a blended malt. Even though I've always told people that a single malt is a malt that came from one distiller, I never pictured it could be from different batches.

    If this is the case, then I have even more respect for the master blenders for being able to reproduce the same quality and taste. I just have to change my perception of what a single malt is.
  • thommes
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    @hwchoy

    LOL. Now I am confused. When you say 'finished' do you mean the scotch started in say an oak cask and then was transferred to a sherry cask?

    I think my concept of a single malt just needs to be adjusted. I've always known that a single malt came from a single distillery, I just didn't picture it coming from different batches. 
  • SlàinteMhath Member SlàinteMhath Joined: 09.10.2016Posts: 134CollectionOslo Whisky ClubRatings: 153
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    @thommes

    Don't be confused. Both procedures are common practice. In the case of Highland Park 12, whisky is matured in ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry casks. The 12-year-old expression contains about 20% sherry cask matured malt - the rest comes from ex-bourbon casks. 'Marrying' of malt prior to bottling can take some time.

    The alternative is what you described: a finish. There are all sorts of finishes:

    sherry finish (oloroso casks)
    sherry finish (PX casks)
    rum finish
    port wine finish
    ...

    The finish usually takes 3-6 months, sometimes years. So in case of a finish, you mature your whisky for X years in cask A before transferring it to cask B for another Y months. However, the master blender still needs to choose the right casks to maintain a certain flavor profile.

    Make sense?

    That's what I do. I drink, and I know things.” (Tyrion Lannister)

    >>> Whisky reviews by Slàinte Mhath <<<

  • [Deleted User] Joined: 26.08.2016Posts: 0CollectionEmpty Bottle ClubRatings: 160
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    @thommes

    I will just add a couple of point to the excellent info you have already been given above:

    1) Single cask bottlings can be better or worse than standard "batch" bottlings. This is especially so if the single casks are from an independent bottler (not bottled by the distillery itself). If you want to get a good feel for a particular distillery, you are better off trying one of the standard "batch" bottlings. It will reflect the house style that the owners feel best showcases the distillery's character (within constraints of cost, cask availability, etc.). If your only experience with a distillery is a single cask bottling, you might decide you don't like that distillery without realizing that the cask is not very representative of the distillery style.

    2) I would recommend adding Benromach 10 year old to your list of malts to try. It is about an 80/20 mix of ex-bourbon-matured and ex-sherry-matured whiskies (both 9 years old) that are then finished (after mixing) in ex-sherry casks for another year. It is made from barley peated to about 10-12 ppm, and is an excellent all-rounder for the price.

    Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets. (Ron Swanson)
  • thommes
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    @Carlton
    @SlàinteMhath ;

    Ok. I think I might have a better understanding of the various processes which will enable me to fully understand what I am reading on the bottle or box or canister. As long as all the batches come from the same distillery it's a single malt, which STILL seems crazy to me LOL but I accept it. 

    Which brings us to the independent bottler. I wasn't going there yet, but Carlton mentioned it.  So an independent can buy casks from a distillery and bottle it? Under the same name? I slightly remember hearing this on a vlog but didn't pursue it further. I agree that it would be better to try the scotch from the distillery itself rather than the independent. I'm really trying to learn about distilleries as much as different types of scotches. 

    I'll add the Benromach 10 to the list. The scotch sounds like it has a lot of character. Not sure I've heard of the distillery or if it'll be readily available.
  • [Deleted User] Joined: 26.08.2016Posts: 0CollectionEmpty Bottle ClubRatings: 160
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    @thommes

    You are correct. Independent bottlers buy whisky from a producer, bottle it, and bring it to market; normally, but not always, the distillery name will be disclosed. The better independent bottlers usually buy new-make spirit from a distillery, have it filled into their own casks, and age it either in contracted warehouse space or in their own warehouses.

    Benromach is a small Speyside distillery owned by Gordon & MacPhail, one of the best independent bottlers. (It is becoming more common for independent bottlers to buy or build their own distilleries to supplement their businesses as distilleries increasingly want to keep more whisky for themselves due to high demand.) G&M have a reputation for using high-quality casks to mature their whiskies, and Benromach benefits from this. 

    Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets. (Ron Swanson)
  • kroman Member Joined: 16.04.2016Posts: 260Collectionkromans CollectionRatings: 21
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    thommes said:
    @kroman ;

    ...My conception of a blended malt is different batches being blended together and bottled. 
    When talking about single malt scotch, this is often called a marriage.  The distiller will take at least two different whiskies (for example, one matured in ex-bourbon for 10 years and a separate whisky which has matured in ex-sherry for five years) and "marry" them together for a period of time to make a blended batch.  This is different than a "finishing", in which THE SAME liquid is transferred to a different vessel (a sherry cask). 

    Please look up Balvenie Tun 1401 (or ANY Balvenie Tun).  Even though it is technically a single malt scotch, this is the purest definition of a "Distillery Blend", as it's a combination of multiple whiskies all from one distillery ( https://us.thebalvenie.com/our-range/tun-1401-batch-9).  In this example, I actually agree with you... calling the Balvenie Tun a single malt seems like an oxymoron.  
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