Whether you're a whiskey connoisseur or you're just getting to know this sophisticated liquor, you're going to want to familiarize yourself with single malt whiskey. Find out what single malt whiskey is and why it's becoming so popular among American distillers.
What Is Single Malt Whiskey?
It's time to set the record straight about single malt whiskeys. Distillers give single malts distinct, full-bodied flavors by aging them in barrels for several years before bottling them. A bottle of single malt whiskey doesn't contain whiskey from just one barrel or a single batch. It is, however, made with whiskey produced by just one distillery.
Single malt whiskey's unique characteristics vary from distillery to distillery. However, the fact that these bottles contain blends from single production houses is what gives each variety a distinct flavor that true fans can easily identify. The oak barrel's quality, the distillery's climate, the minerals in the local water and other factors can create differences from barrel to barrel. Once blended in-house, a single malt takes on the distillery's well-known flavor profile.
How Does Single Malt Whiskey Differ From Blended Whiskey?
The difference between single malt whiskey and blended whiskey is like night and day — well, almost. The sourcing guidelines for blends are much less strict than those for single malt whiskeys. In fact, blended whiskeys can contain malt and grain whiskeys from multiple distilleries.
As you might suspect, blended whiskeys have less distinct flavor profiles that don't boast that house flavor single malts are known for. However, many feature balanced flavors and fascinating combinations that single malts just don't have. Blended whiskey is incredibly popular, and most whiskeys on the market are blended.
What's the History of Single Malt Whiskey?
Sure, Scotland is where some of the best-known distilleries have been aging and bottling single malt whiskey for centuries. But that's not the only place you'll find single malts that will knock your socks off. In fact, American producers have begun distilling their own single malt whiskeys in recent decades.
American distillers might not yet have the pedigree that the Scots do, but they've begun winning major awards and attracting attention from serious whiskey drinkers. In a blind taste test, an American whiskey even beat out its Scottish counterparts in the famous Best in Glass competition.
While many Scottish distillers base their recipes on centuries of tradition, some American distillers have approached single malt production with an extra burst of innovation. From using unusual grains to adding enticing natural flavors during the aging process, American distillers aren't afraid to experiment with their single malt whiskeys. Distillers from across the nation are now making single malts, so you can try bottles from local producers or those from Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee and beyond.