Blended vs. Single Malt Scotch

What is the difference between blended and single malt scotches? Technically, the difference is in production. A blended scotch or whiskey is one in which several, anywhere from a dozen to a hundred, different whiskeys are blended together. A single malt scotch is one in which only one whiskey, from start to finish, is used. From a labeling perspective, blended whiskeys must have been aged at least three years and the age on the bottle must be that of the youngest whiskey in the blend. This isn’t an issue for single malts because there is only one age in the bottle.

As for the part of whiskey that matters, the enjoyment, there is no reason why a blended whiskey would be inferior or superior to a single malt. The difference is only in that single malts from one region will have the region’s characteristics come through in the scotch. This is difficult with blends because you have a lot of different whiskeys blended together. It’s like listening to a violin versus listening to an orchestra, to use the orchestra analogy once again.

So, when choosing what you’ll be having, it’s more important to be familiar with the whiskey rather than look to see whether it’s a blend or a single malt. Like age, whether the scotch is blended or a single malt is a poor indicator of whether you’ll enjoy it.