A blended whisky (or whiskey) is the product of blending different types of whiskies. It is generally the product of mixing one or more single malt whiskies (made from 100 percent malted grain such as barley or rye) together with other grain whiskies or neutral grain spirits. Scotland, Ireland, and Canada are the most common countries of origin for blends. A mix of single malts only, without grain whisky, is called a vatted malt.
Most blended whiskies do not list an age. When a blended whisky does so, each individual malt and grain whisky must be at least as old as the age listed. Two of the most widely known examples of blended whisky are Johnnie Walker and Seagram’s Seven Crown, but there are many others such as Jameson, Pigs Nose, Old St Andrews and Isle of Skye.
Grain whisky and other ‘fillers’ are usually much cheaper to produce than single malts, so blends containing them are usually much cheaper to buy. Most cocktails and mixed drinks that call for whisky use blended whisky. This is primarily for cost reasons, and secondarily because the complex flavours of single malt whiskies would be overshadowed by the mixer(s). Scotch purists generally consider blended whisky to be an inferior drink to the single malt Scotch varieties. Others might argue that blending allows for the creation of smoother or more desirable flavors, and many experts agree that top-quality blends can rival certain single-malts in overall flavor and drinking enjoyment.
Single malt whisky is a whisky which is distilled at a single distillery, and which is made completely from a single type of malted grain, traditionally barley, (although there are also single malt rye whiskies). Most single malt whiskies are distilled using a pot still. Single malts are produced all over the world, but the best known single malts come from Scotland, Ireland and Japan