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The Difference Between Ballantine’s Single Malt and Blended Scotch

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Our whiskies are as diverse and varied as the people that drink it. No matter how you like your Scotch to taste, there’s bound to be one you’ll love. To help you choose the right one for you, it’s worth looking at the three different categories of Ballantine’s whisky. 

Ballantine’s Finest is our flagship bottle, and this falls into our core whisky range. All the whiskies in this category are blended and have been expertly crafted by our Master Blender. 

Then there’s our single malt range, which includes the Glenburgie, Miltonduff and Glentauchers expressions. Finally, there’s the Iconic Collection, which are blended whiskies aged for 17 years or more. Each range is unique in its own way, but the easiest way to distinguish between them is that each is made up of either single malt or blended whisky. 

What’s the difference?

But what is the difference between single malt and blended whisky? To put it simply, it comes down to the ingredients used to make each one. For something to qualify as a single malt whisky, it has to come from a single whisky distillery while a blended whisky is the product of more than one. 

The process of blending is lead by the Master Blender who brings together different Scotch whiskies from multiple distilleries, and expertly combines them together into a single expression. This means marrying the unique characteristics of whisky from different regions of Scotland; countless different flavour profiles marrying together to create a beautifully balanced blended Scotch. There’s no limit to the number of whiskies that can be used to create a blend, making it a more creative process than the production of single malt.

Single Malt Vs Blended

The common question is which is the better Scotch, blended or single malt? This has been fiercely argued for years, with great points coming from both sides. The first thing to consider is the taste of single malt whisky against the taste of blended whisky. Some people consider a single malt to have a more pure taste, as it comes solely from one type of distilled grain (malted barley) and is the representation of a single distillery, while a blended whisky has a more multi-layered character, combining different grains from an eclectic mix of distilleries.

This isn’t too far off from the truth. For example, take a look at the latest addition to our core collection, the Ballantine’s 7 Bourbon Finish. Using our classic Ballantine’s blend, but finished in bourbon barrels, it delivers a unique sweetness to match its golden hue. 

On the other side of the coin, there’s the Glentauchers 23 year old single malt. Although it too is rich in colour from years in the cask, the flavour is a little less intense than that of the bourbon finish. On the tongue, however, the flavours are more complex, which can be put down to it drawing the maximum amount of potential out of the grain. Initially tasting fruity, like stewed berries, and with a scent of floral marmalade, it gives way for a longer, sweeter and more delicate finish. 

How To Drink Single Malt?

Another key question is how single malt whisky should be drunk. Keeping in mind the difference in flavour, it makes sense that single malt whisky is best enjoyed on its own without a mixer. To truly appreciate those complex and unique flavours, single malt whisky is usually sipped neat or with a single block of ice, allowing you to fully experience the ageing process that has gone into creating it. 

As a rule of thumb, the bold character of a blended whisky mean it is better in cocktails as its powerful flavour can punch through all the other components in a drink. That being said, these are only suggestions – it’s your drink, your choice!

Find Out Which You Prefer

Now you know the difference between single malt and blended scotch, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. And the only way to find out whether you’re team single malt or team blended is by jumping in and trying them. 

Why not start with our indulgent Glenburgie 18 year old for a taste of single malt goodness? Or if you’re feeling iconic, get hold of a limited edition Shawna X bottle for a truly showstopping blend.

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