Some scotch types are enjoyed by our society’s highest echelons, and others are trusty, reliable drinks used as the alcohol of choice by many across the globe.
This was not always the case – in the Scotland of yore, for example, the upper classes would sip Claret or botanical rum at dinner time whereas the more proletarian folk would enjoy a strong, warming dram in the evening.
So: scotch. The drink that transcends social position and opinion, enjoyed throughout the world, and one that comes in a huge variety of different flavors and types. In the infamous “Scottish Play”, the eponymous protagonist Macbeth uses a word invented by Shakespeare: “multitudinous”. Thankfully, the phrase handily describes what the field of different scotches look like: multitudinous.
You can look far and wide for different types of this gorgeous nectar, one that dance playfully over the palate or ones that grasp you firmly by the tastebuds, and still not find the one that is quite right for you. They range from all over the beautiful environs of Scotland, and come blended from various places across England and the United States too! People tend to adore the smooth mouthfeel of the liquor, strong and forthright flavor profile, and rather potent alcohol content. Some more robust blends are often used as mixers in cocktails or other drink like an old fashioned or a jack and coke.
The other scotch types are the aged and matured. The most venerated of these (like the Bowmore 50 year or Macallan M) boast ingredients aged since the early 1940s. These matured scotches are exercises in the wonders of age, and how it does not always lead to entropy. Sometimes age can blossom into something mind-blowing. Nuanced flavors abound in those kinds of scotches, and this the kind of spirit that would not work well in cocktails or with mixers. The cornucopia of subtle tasting notes that flood and layer these drinks are too precious to mix with any kind of soda.
So, in this article we will break down all the different scotch types that are available to buy in the current liquor market. It will range from the less expensive (but often also delicious) blends that are out there, why people age scotches, and the difference between single grain and single malt scotch!
If any of that seems up your street, then read on as we break down the huge array of scotch variety that you could be getting from our whisky subscription service!
The Blends and Singles of Scotch Types
Nearly 90% of all whiskies currently on the market are blends: which are combinations of grain and malt whiskies. These tend to give a smoother, robust flavor of one, unified note that has a huge market appeal (as the above statistic will tell you). What this does tend to mean, however, is that the nuances and dances of flavor in the longer-aged scotches are not present in these more mid-tiers, entry level whiskies.
If you are looking to start getting into whiskies, blends are a really good way to do so! They are usually the more wallet-friendly among other scotch types, and you will get a good sense of the general feel and flavor profile. This might help inform whether you really want to commit to buying more expensive bottles.
Blended whiskies also bring you the opportunities for different flavored whiskies, which might make a typical aged scotch connoisseur baulk but present some interesting takes on the classic spirit.
Single Malt Scotch
Single Malt scotch whiskies are the original of all scotch types. Distilled from spread malt barley that is spread across the floor and moistened, then left to germinate. For peaty whiskies, these are smoked over fresh wood to deliver a deep, smoky flavor to combine with a beautifully smooth mouthfeel. The reason they are single malts is that they use only one type of malted barley to do this.
Aged Single Malt whiskies are often considered to be the absolute premium, the elite of the alcohol world. Some distilleries do all their own creation in house – and there are even innovators like Bowmore who experiment with a wide array of different smoking methods.
Single Grain Scotch
Single grain whiskies are like malt whiskies in that they use a single central component: some type of cereal grain (like wheat or maize). They are often considered to be the less flavorful component to a blend, but this is not necessarily true.
Well matured single grain scotch can have a delicious light fruity taste, very delicate on the palate.