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What Is Blended Whiskey? Explained (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on November 10, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Whiskey terminologies can be challenging to understand, especially if you are new to the whiskey world.

Blended whiskey is one of the most confusing terminologies in the whiskey world because it gives different definitions depending on geographic location. 

So what is blended whiskey? Read on to find out.

What Blended Whiskey Really Means 

Whiskey Decanter and a Glasses

Blended whiskey is a product of blending different types of whiskeys.

Generally, it is produced by mixing a higher quality straight whiskey or single malt whiskey and a less expensive spirit or other ingredients such as flavorings and coloring. 

Blended whiskey definition differs depending on their geographic location because they set standards and regulations depending on the whiskey category.

Most blended whiskeys are made from blended malts or grains, while others are made in single grains by two or more distilleries. 

Learn how to drink single malt Scotch whisky here.

Interesting Facts 

History & Origin

It was in the 1700s and 1800s when monks and later farmers used barley malt in pot stills to create whiskeys. To keep up with the demand, shopkeepers made their blends and brands.

Today, blended and exceptional grain whiskies are popular for their taste, price tag, and availability.  

How Blended Whiskey Is Made

A Man Making a Blended Scotch Whisky

Blended spirits are often made in Japan, Ireland, and Scotland, but they can be made anywhere in the world. Blended whiskey is made by combining whiskies from different grain and malt distilleries after it was aged in oak barrels. 

For instance, blended Scotch whisky is a mixture of single malts from different distilleries, while in America, blended whiskeys are made with 20% straight whiskey, and the rest are neutral spirits. 

Its Main Ingredients

Depending on the category, blended whiskeys can be made from grains such as malted barley, corn, rye, wheat, and vatted malt.

Blended Scotches are made from malted barley and other grains, and they can be called blended malt Scotch whisky(formerly called vatted malts). 

Some American blends do not add blending materials such as caramel coloring and neutral grains. These bottles tend to be labeled as “a blend of Scotch, bourbon, or whiskey” because they are a blend of 100% whiskey. 

5 Types of Blended Whiskey 

1. Blended Scotch Whisky

All whiskies in the Scotch category should be made in Scotland and aged for three years [1]. There are different blended Scotch whiskies in the market today.

Blended malt scotch whisky is made from single malt Scotch whiskies from two or more distillers. 

Blended Scotch whisky is a mixture of single malt whisky and grain whisky or one or more single grain Scotch whiskies from several distilleries.

On the other hand, blended grain Scotch whisky is a blend of single grains from different distilleries. 

2. Irish Blended Whiskey

By Irish law, every whiskey must be aged for at least three years to be labeled as Irish whiskey.

The majority of Irish whiskeys are blended, and they are typically distilled thrice. After barrelling, the grain whiskeys are blended before bottling. 

Read: Popular Irish Whiskeys For Beginners

3. Japanese Blended Whisky

Hibiki Suntory Whisky Bottle

Japanese Blended whisky is a combination of single malts and single grain whiskies.

There are no mandated proportions for blending, which varies according to the distilleries’ Master Blender.

However, the whiskies used for blending should be matured for at least three years in oak casks. 

Read: Popular Japanese Whiskies Below $100

4. American Blended Whiskey

American Blended whiskey is different because it should comprise at least 20% straight whiskeys.

Straight whiskeys are aged for at least two years in new charred oak barrels. The rest of the whiskey can consist of neutral grain spirits. 

5. Canadian Blended Whisky

Canadian blended whisky is different from other whiskies because Canadian distillers mash, ferment, distill and mature each type of grain used for their whiskies.

The finished whiskies are then blended, which gives Master Blenders freedom on the proportion of malt whiskies. 

Whiskey Percentage A Blended Whiskey Should Have 

Of all the blended whiskies we mentioned above, only American whiskey sets 20% straight whiskies.

Based on award-winning author Davin de Kergommeaux, America defines blended spirit as 20 percent straight whiskey, and the rest can be a terribly cheap spirit [2]. 

Blended Whiskey’s Minimum Age Requirement 

Man Blending Whisky on Beaker

Blended whiskey’s minimum age requirement depends on the geographical location of the whiskey.

In Scotland, Ireland, and Canada, barrel-aged-malt whisky should be aged for three years, while in America, as long as it contains two-year-old straight whiskies, it’s good to go. 

FAQs 

Is blended whiskey better than single malt whiskey?

No, blended whiskey is not better than single malt whiskey. Single malts taste better because of their uniform taste.

Blended, on the other hand, is good because of its variety of flavors but not better than single malt Scotch whisky. 

Does blended whiskey have vodka in it?

Blended whiskey can have vodka in it if it is an American blended whiskey.

By law, American blended whiskey should contain 20% straight whiskeys and 80% grain-neutral spirit. Since vodka is a grain-neutral spirit, it is possible. 

Final Thoughts

Generally, Blended whiskey is a broad category, and it varies depending on the geographical location and whiskey laws.

Blended Scotch whisky is a blend of single malt whiskies from two or more distilleries. American blended whiskey is a blend of 20% whiskey and 80% neutral spirits, colorings, and flavorings. 

Blended Irish whiskey is a blend of single malt whiskeys from similar or different distilleries in Ireland. It is a mixture of whiskies made from single grain in Canada, but distillers can also use mash bills of multiple grains. 

References:

  1. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/22/enacted 
  2. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/is-canadian-whiskey-good

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