There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding amongst the consumers regarding the difference between a single and a blended malt whisky. The most common misconception that people have is that single malt whisky is not a blend. However, this is not true. To deepen our understanding of the different types of whisky variants, let us first understand the basic difference between a single malt whisky and a blended whisky.
Before coming to the difference, it is very important to understand the meaning of the word blend. In common parlance, the world blend would mean the mixture of two or more substances to form a new single substance, which in our case is a whisky. But in the world of alcoholic beverages, this term has a little different meaning attached to it. According to this, the word blend means a mixture of two or more barrel-aged whiskies.
The crucial and the most important difference that one needs to understand between single malt and blended whisky/scotch is that single malt is produced and matured at a single distillery. However, that being said, it in no sense means that it is not a blend. Even a single malt whisky can be a blend, though it is a very unique blend. The important point to note here is that this blend will belong to the same distillery i.e., no matter how many different types of whiskies are mixed to produce a specific whisky, they all will be a product of the same distillery. The key feature is the role played by different distilleries, if the whiskies are mixed from the whiskies produced by a single distillery, then it is a single malt whisky and if the whiskies that are mixed to form a specific product belong to various distilleries, then it is known as a blended whisky.
Another common misconception that exists is that a single malt means, that it belongs to the same batch of the aged barrel. However, this is purely a myth. If this were the case, large scale sale of whiskies would not have been possible due to lack of production as it would take more time and space to age/mature and produce whisky/scotch in different barrels and pack them barrel wise.
Confusion may also arise when we see ‘Single-Grain-Whisky’ written on the bottles. This does not mean that the whisky is made from using just a single grain, but it means that it may contain different grains such as barley, wheat, etc, all produced in the same distillery.
Therefore, a blend is a mixture of whiskies that belong to more than one distillery and a single malt is a whisky belonging to a single/one distillery. Moreover, it may contain more than one grain and may a mix of different whiskies that have aged in different barrels but belonging to the same distillery.