First, terminology for the newbs: Blended malt Scotch lies between single malt and blended varieties. Single malt is made from malted barley from a single distillery. Blended Scotch is made from malt whiskey plus grain whiskey and can come from just about anywhere. (Blended Scotch is blended with the intent of making it consistent from year to year and, generally, more affordable.) Blended malt Scotch is comparably rare and lies between these two: It’s created by mixing single malt Scotches, with no addition of the cheaper grain alcohol to the blend, but the goal is to be as consistent as blended Scotch but having a more upscale taste. (To confuse matters further, blended malt is sometimes also called “pure malt” Scotch. Single malt purists prefer the original term of “vatted malt.”) In theory you can make your own blended malt at home by mixing up your favorite single malts just to see what happens.
Venerable blender Cutty Sark recently put out a blended malt bottling at 80 proof. This one, made of some 20 or so whiskys, isn’t bad at all. There’s smoke up front, then honey and vanilla. Some bits of citrus, then heat and plenty of it. The finish is a little thin as the taste wisps away. The flavors in the blend are all well and good, but there’s something about them that doesn’t quite work together. To use a terrible metaphor, it’s a bit like a layer cake, rather than a custard.
Cutty’s blended malt is perfectly drinkable (I know: I’ve been drinking it after dinner for three nights straight), but the nuance of many single malts that makes them so completely memorable seems curiously blended away. The decent price, however, makes this a somewhat compelling bottle for a Scotch. (It will, at least, when it makes it into wide release in the U.S.)
B / $30 / cutty-sark.co.uk
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