Sadly, blended whisky is often treated as inferior to its single malt counterparts. Single Malt is the pure-blooded Draco Malfoy to muggle-born Hermione Granger (to say nothing of the dark horse Neville Longbottom that is Single Pot Still). We know who we would prefer to copy our potions homework off.
Blends are made by blending lighter style whiskey made from maize or corn and whiskey made using malt in a pot still. When made well blended whiskeys teem with aroma and flavour. Spice is present, herbs sometimes too, and beneath that perhaps leather, caramel, tobacco, all finely strung together, balanced by the skill of the blender.
We have picked three of our favourites.
Jameson Crested Ten
Confusingly, this whiskey is not actually ten year old, but it does contain slightly older whiskeys than the standard Jameson. Crested Ten is blended from grain whiskey distilled in Cork and single pot still including some whiskeys that have been matured in ex-sherry casks, lending a juicy softness to the whiskey. There is loads of gently toasted wood as well as a beautiful raisin and nutty chocolate note complemented by warming spice. Kind of like a hot cross bun toasted with nutella on top, except at 40% ABV.
The Tullamore Distillery celebrates its first anniversary next week. Their flagship blend is a triple distilled blend of three kinds of whiskey: Malt, Pot Still and Grain. It is sweet and smooth, with loads of flavours of orchard fruits (apples and pears), vanilla and that stuff that people ice Christmas cakes with. Actually, now that we think of it, a bit of the Christmas cake too.
Grants Family Reserve
The familiar looking bottle is easy to overlook. Inside however the whisky is a blend of grain whisky from the Girvan distillery and some cracking malt whiskies, including its stablemates Glenfiddich and Balvenie. Grants has a hint of some orangey flavours which is balanced by a large dollop of spice, and a sweet vanilla and gentle peat kick, like a marshmallow charred on a bonfire.
The art of the blender is to bring together and balance each of the elements so that no one characteristic overwhelms. To experience the challenge of creating the perfect blend, book our blending lab with Grants Global Ambassador Rob Allanson next Saturday 19th September.