The word blend is often associated with low quality in the world of whisky. So, we decided to test whether people would notice the difference between our blended malt and 3 other award winning single malt whiskies.
Single malt whisky has seen a rise in popularity over the past decade and now accounts for 14% of total whisky consumption. The increasing demand has brought about an assumption that blended is bad and single is good. In brief, blended whiskies were introduced by the Greengrocers of the late 1800’s/ early 1900’s to balance out the stronger notes found in malt whisky with the softer profile of grain whisky. The original blenders such as Andrew Usher, Johnnie Walker and James Buchanan led the way, ushering (no pun intended) in a new era for whisky as they sent their brands to every corner of the globe. These guys were whisky pioneers and significantly added to Scotch whisky’s global market position.
Fast-forward a few decades and we are now seeing the rise of the single malt. Consumer tastes have changed and premiumisation of whisky has reached new levels. This has generated an increase in demand for higher price tag whiskies and has led many people to believe that blended whisky, which is often cheaper than single malt whisky, is not worth drinking. This attitude has had a knock-on effect for more premium blended whisky and also blended malts, which used to be known as vatted malts.
When it comes down to it, it’s a consumer education piece and it’s something that we come up against a lot. A large number of people, including many whisky drinkers, don’t understand the difference between a blend and a blended malt. Furthermore, many people also don’t understand that all whisky (excluding single cask) is blended, or vatted, to achieve a consistent flavour profile. The word blend has become synonymous with low quality and we’re not sure that this will ever change.
We are, understandably, big fans of blended and blended malt whisky. The skill of a master blender is something that takes a lifetime to hone and the output can be far more complex and incredible than whisky produced at a single distillery. On top of this, we stand by our whisky and would argue that it’s every bit as good as similar single malt releases. Given this and the above, we decided to launch Blend Roulette (with the help of Dewarc) to challenge peoples’ preconceived notions about whisky, and put their palates to the test!
To do so, we picked three award-winning single malt whiskies to compare against our own whisky. On the first run, we invited 5 random people from a busy bar into our tasting room and simply asked them to tell us what they thought of each whisky. On the second run, we invited a further 6 people to go through the process. Participants were not aware of the fact that one whisky was a blended malt and were simply asked for their opinion. Later, we asked the participants to rate each whisky out of 5 and then informed them that one whisky was our blended malt. The results were entirely as we expected: our blended malt is every bit as good as a single malt (some even rated us better).