View Full Version : Definition of 100% Scotch Whiskies?
I was checking out a dusty scotch bottle of "Old Rarity" from the 1970's. It is labeled as 12yo, 86 proof, and on the back label states "Blended Scotch Whisky", "100% Scotch Whiskies".
The actual meaning of this wording seems to change over time, so in this time period, what does this mean?
That it is all whisky distilled in Scotland, some of which is GNS?
Or is it what used to be called a vatting, where it is a blend of single malts?
It's a blend of scottish malt whisky and scottish grain whisky. Blended Scotch is different than blended american whiskey (like Seagram's 7) in that it doesn't contain neutral grain spirit (vodka) but instead contains aged grain whisky. The age statement on the label indicates that even the grain element would be aged for a minimum of 12 years. I believe the Scotch Whisky Association requires anything being labeled "whisky" to be aged at least 3 years. They recently discontinued the use of "vatted" whisky and replaced it with "Blended Malt Scotch Whisky".
In case anyone is interested, here are the current categories of scotch whisky.
Single Malt Scotch - A scotch that comes from one distillery made from barley (e.g. Laphroaig, Abelour, Springbank, etc)
Single Grain Scotch - A scotch that comes from one distillery made from grain (e.g. Girvan, Carsebridge, etc)
Blended Scotch - A scotch made from a blending of malt scotch and grain scotch (e.g. Dewers, Grouse, Johnnie Walker (Red, Black, Blue, etc)
Blended Malt Scotch - A scotch made from blending 2 or more malt scotches (e.g. Johnnie Walker Green, Compass Box (Flaming Heart, Peat Monster, Last Vatted Scotch, etc)
Blended Grain Scotch - A scotch made from blending 2 or more grain scotches (e.g. Compass Box Hedonism, Compass Box Last Vatted Grain Scotch, etc)
For the record I'll take a quality blend over an ordinary single malt any day.
Thanks for the excellent break down of definitions Tom on all that is scotch,I've been asked in the past and honestly could only explain three of the five,shows what I know.
To Tom's excellent list I'd add only that there is a fundamental distinction between single malt and single grain which goes beyond the fact that barley (malt) distinguishes the malts. It is that distillation proof of the malts is quite low, in bourbon territory in fact, whereas for grain whisky, it is close to that of neutral spirit. Any grain can be used to make a grain whisky, even barley malt, but the very high distilling out proof ensures that the result will be nearly neutral. The distinction noted is not a legal one but one long observed in practice.
Hey Gary....leave it to a lawyer to make me clarify my sweet and short answer <G>
Single Malt Scotch - A Scotch made from a single distillery from 100% water and malted barley AND is pot stilled.
Single Grain Scotch - A Scotch made from a single distillery that does not meet the requirements of Single Malt Scotch (so a 100% malted barley pot stilled scotch could not be called a grain scotch even if it was distilled to a high proof)
Obviously barley is one of the grains used in a grain scotch, but always at a low percentage (just as in bourbon) because of cost and efficiency factors since grain scotch is made primarily for blendeding into blended scotch.
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