When you hear the word “single malt,” what is the first thing that comes into your mind? Do you imagine a glass of whiskey, sipping it slowly and enjoying the warmth from it? Or do you think of a shot of Irish whiskey, the taste of it refreshing as well as rich? Whichever category you fall under, single malt whiskies probably evoke a very different memory. These liqueurs are usually associated with an expensive single-malt Scotch, and there are many great reasons why they are so special.
First of all, single malt scotch whiskies are always made from a single type of grain, which is commonly referred to as the “sugar mountain” or “heirloom grain.” The term “single malt” actually describes any type of single malt or single-grain alcoholic beverage produced by a distiller who uses the best parts of a specific plant. Distillers typically age the whiskey in barrels for a minimum of three years. Afterwards, the whiskey is allowed to undergo a process called “special finishing,” in which it undergoes a mellowing process in order to achieve a more balanced flavour and aroma. There are some major brands of single malt scotch whiskies, like Beam, Havanese, and Johnnie B. Smith’s Irish Cream.
However, not all single malt whiskies are created equal. In fact, there are some major differences between scotch and other whiskies, which make it important for you to become familiar with these differences in order to truly enjoy a great glass of single malt. For one thing, single malt scotch is generally lighter and less smoky than most blends. The reason behind this is because distillers add just a small amount of grain to the mixture, which results in the creation of a lighter, crisper whiskey. The result is an entirely new experience. Some of the most popular scotch-like flavors come from the aging process, which leaves the whiskey tasting more or less like it is in its natural state.
Another distinctive aspect of single malt whiskey is that it is typically aged in oak barrels. This means that the whiskey has more flavour depth than most blends, as it can be further tweaked by the barrel in which it is aged. For instance, Scotland’s famous Single Scotch distillery, Balblair, uses peat bales as its ageing vessels, whereas the best known American distilleries, Jack Daniel’s and James Bond’s favourite, whiskey produced in America, use rye. With all of these variables, single malt whiskey makes for a very rich and complex drink that is unlike anything else.
Single malt whiskeys are also made from a number of different grains, including oats, corn, malted barley, rye, wheat, and even rice. Popular brands include Bell, MacBeth, GlenDronn’s, Johnnie B’s, and Brown’s Irish Whiskey. If you’re looking for a light, summery drink that’s not too heavy on the alcohol, a scotch-single malt whiskey might be a great choice. There are also sherry and brandy-based whiskey out there, made from different varieties of grapes. No matter what your taste buds think, there is a wonderfully complex and delicious single malt whiskey waiting for you.