What is Single Grain Whisky?

A glencairn glass with cerais and a tumbler glass containing single grain whisky

Single grain whisky is defined by its single distillery manufacturing process. A whisky must be made by a single distillery in order to qualify as a single grain whisky. Single grain, regardless of the name, can be composed of one or more grains – that may not be malted or unmalted barley, creating a light-bodied and mellow taste for whisky lovers to enjoy.

Continue reading to discover more about single grain whisky and the international brands you must try.


Table of Contents:

  1. What Does Single Grain Mean in Whisky?
    1. What is the Difference between Single Malt Whisky and Single Grain Whisky?
  2. How does Single Grain Whisky Taste?
  3. Single Grain Whisky Within the Whisky Market
  4. What is the best Single Grain Whisky? – An Exquisite Top 9
    1. Teeling Single Grain Whiskey
    2. Single Grain Kilbeggan
    3. Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey
    4. Glendalough Double Barrel Single Grain Irish Whiskey
    5. Methods and Madness Single Grain Finished in Virgin Spanish Oak Casks
    6. Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky
    7. Nikka Coffey Single Grain Whisky
    8. Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky
    9. Suntory: The Chita
    10. Girvan No. 4 Apps Single Grain Whiskey


Glencairn glass with single grain whisky and spilled grains on a table


What Does Single Grain Mean in Whisky?

To be recognized as a single grain, a whisky must be made from a single grain or blend of grains at a single distillery. This technique can employ malted or unmalted grains, but it is not confined to that.

A grain whisky employs additional malted or unmalted grains in the mash, rather than mostly malted barley. If a single grain whiskey is classified as Scotch or Irish, it must be matured for at least three years as it happens with any other types of Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey.

It is essential to remember that the term “single grain whisky” refers to the number of distilleries, not the number of grains that can be utilized. The laws do not specify the size or shape of the still. However, this type is commonly distilled in a column or Coffey still rather than a pot still.

To avoid using artificial enzymes, most distillers utilize at least 5% malted barley, which allows enough amounts of natural enzymes to be introduced, easing the fermentation process.


What is the Difference Between Single Malt and Single Grain Whisky?

As it happens with single malt whisky, the word “single” in the name indicates that it is also the product of a single distillery. However, and here’s the main difference between them: single grain does not have to be exclusively manufactured from barley or malted. On the other hand, single grain whiskies are frequently manufactured from wheat, maize, or a combination of the two.

Wheat field
Wheat is one of the grains used to make Single Grain Whisky


How Does Single Grain Whisky Taste?

Single grain whiskies are often light-bodied and mellow, making them an excellent introduction for those who just now entering the whisky world. Corn, maize, wheat, and old barrels are commonly utilized.

Since this type of whisky is made from corn, maize, wheat and aged in older barrels, their character is somewhat sweeter than single malts, for instance. Contrarily to the bourbon flavour – that is made with 51% corn within the mash – the single grain expressions do not have the smoky flavours, the maple or vanilla flavours one can find in conventional bourbon whiskey.


Single Grain Whisky within the Whisky Market

Historically, the single grain whisky category was not something that was bottled and marketed. It was and still is predominantly utilized in the production of blended whiskeys such as Dewar’s White Label, Johnnie Walker Red, and Jameson, to mention a few.

It is easier and less expensive to make than single malt, which is made in batches. Single grains can create a high-quality blended whisky at a very reasonable price when mixed with single malts.

The single grain category has gained popularity in recent years, with whisky companies producing some very excellent whisky expressions.

A glencairn glass with cerais and a tumbler glass containing single grain whisky


What is the Best Single Grain Whisky? – An Excquisite Top 9 of Single Grain Whisky Brands

Teeling’s Single Grain WhiskeyBottle of Teeling Single Grain Whiskey

Teeling’s single grain whiskey is mainly made from maize. This has been aged in California red wine barrels for a long time. Its non-chill filtered and has a 46 percent ABV.

The scent is similar to what you’d get in a hot morning cereal with a hint of char smoke. There are red raspberries and banana bread, but the intensity is mild.

On the tongue, you’ll discover a full-bodied whiskey with flavours that are similar to the scent, with a touch of vanilla cream and a trace of mint. The aftertaste is dry, although the fruit component isn’t as strong as you might think.

The entire ageing in California red wine barrels distinguishes this bottling not only for this category but for any Irish whiskey. Expect to find bottles prices starting at around $50.


Single Grain Kilbeggan

This Irish single grain whiskey, mainly composed of maize, was introduced in late June 2017 to the market and is matured initially in ex-bourbon barrels. It is then finished maturing in a second marriage of ex-bourbon and different fortified wine barrels. This whiskey is highlighted by the gentle aromas of lemon tarts and sweet cereal overtones. Bottles start at around $30.


Ballyhoo Irish WhiskeyBottle of Ballyhood Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey is a grain whiskey that has been column distilled and matured for four years. Once in Ballina, the liquor is transferred to previously used port barrels and matures for many months.

Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey is intended to be vibrant, inexpensive, and consumed without hesitation. This whiskey is 86 proof and made using 93 percent French corn and 7 percent malted barley in the mash bill. Besides being matured for four years, it has a port barrels finnish, where it stays three to six months in port barrels. Expect to pay around $30 for 750 mL.


Glendalough Double Barrel Single Grain Irish WhiskeyBottle of Glendalough Double Barrel Single Grain Whiskey

Glendalough Distillery is an independent distillery formed by five friends that has spearheaded Ireland’s artisanal resurgence. This double-barrel whiskey takes Glendalough a step further in a new direction after making a name for themselves with their pique styles.

It’s created with a malted barley and maize mash bill and distilled in Coffey stills. It was aged for three years in ex-bourbon barrels before being completed in 500-litre oloroso sherry casks.

The taste is enlivened by sweet-tart dried figs, dates, and apricots, balanced by creamy cashew and almond. Toffee and vanilla are added to the mix. The aroma has a bite of alcohol that carries through to the finish, which is a little spicy.

Double Barrel Single Grain Glendalough is an excellent choice for an on-the-rocks whisky or spritz foundation.


Bottle of Method and Madness Single Grain Irish WhiskeyMethods and Madness Single Grain Finished in Virgin Spanish Oak Casks

Method and Madness is an experimental microdistillery, producing Irish whiskey brands such as Jameson and Redbreast. This Method and Madness Single Grain spends the first part of its maturation in first-fill bourbon barrels before finishing in virgin Spanish oak.

This single grain whiskey is bottled at a proof of 92.

Cupcake icing, vanilla, sandalwood, and toffee bonbons dominate the nose, which is light, delicate, and flowery.

The smells of wood, toasted bread, candied orange slices, honey, and a wide variety of sweet and spicy spices fill the tongue, which is richer and warmer.

The aftertaste is brief and peppery, with drier overtones. Overall, a very intriguing single grain contributes to the growth of interest in this whiskey category.


Haig Club Single Grain Scotch WhiskyBottle of Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky

This Haig single grain whisky, distilled in Scotland’s Cameronbridge Distillery in Fife, was released to the US in December 2014. This has a morning cereal flavour with subtle hints of herbs, vanilla, and light barrel spices and is made mainly from wheat.

Diageo, the brand’s owner, has lately developed a more mixable version in the UK. The Haig Club Clubman is slightly less expensive at $30. It is recommended to serve this one neat or on the rocks to allow the delicate nuances to show through.

Bottles in the United States begin at $55.



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Nikka Coffey Single Grain WhiskyBottle of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky

This whiskey is made primarily of maize and comes from Nikka’s Miyagikyo Distillery, which has Coffey stills in addition to pot stills. Notes of carnival sweets and peaches may be found in this bottle of single-grain whisky.

As the demand for Japanese whiskey has grown, so has the price of this item. Nonetheless, the whiskey is worthwhile. Bottle prices begin at $65.


Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky

The Nikka Coffey Single Grain Whisky and Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky were both produced at the same distillery, Miyagikyo, in Coffey stills. The mash bill is entirely made up of malt in this example.

However, since the whisky was made at a single distillery, it is considered a single grain. Pot-stills must be used to distil this category. This product was first published in European markets in 2014, and it is now available in the United States as of May 2016.

Darker smells of pecan shells and a hint of char smoke greet the nose. The taste is rich in vanilla, coconut, and maple notes from American whiskey, but the malt provides the whiskey with a balance that keeps it from being greasy and excessively sweet. The peppery character of the barrels, which breaks up all the sweet aromas, also binds the space together.


Suntory: The ChitaBottle of Suntory The Chita Single Grain Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky brands tend to create all of their own whiskies rather than trading for blended whiskies. Suntory’s grain whisky is produced in the Chita Distillery, which was founded in 1972 and is used to make many of their brands, including the Toki and Hibiki collections.

The Chita has vanilla sweetness and tropical fruit aromas. The product is not available in the United States. This single grain whisky can be found in Japan or at certain worldwide travel retail stores for approximately $65.



Girvan No. 4 Apps Single Grain WhiskeyBottle of Girvan No 4, Single Grain Whiskey

William Grant & Sons own Girvan, a single grain distillery in the USA. The distillery, which opened in 1963, has been producing whiskey for blended whiskies ever since, but this is the first time it has released a distillery bottling.

The No. 4 Apps, which is named after the distillery term for “apparatus,” is made utilizing vacuum distillation, which they’ve been doing since 1992. This single grain is matured in first fill and refill American oak for an unspecified amount of time.

There are sweet cereal flavours in this whiskey, a hint of barrel spice, and a dollop of vanilla. The whiskey has some roundness and softness on the mid-palate, so it’s not as harsh and angular as the colour suggests.

If you’re looking for a vast, bold bruiser of a whiskey, this is not the whisky for you.

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