Scotland: Whisky & Distilleries
The millions of liters whisky Scotland produces each year are of course not consumed by the only single malt lovers. There is just a very small part of the whisky production sold as single malt, the greatest deal (over 90%) being bottled and sold as blended whisky.
Blended whisky is made from a mix of single malt (see making of whisky) and grain whisky. Grain whisky does not have the long history of single malt, which is supposed to exist since over 500 years, as single grain had to wait for the invention of the column still (Patent still, or Coffey still) to be able to produce continuously whisky from non malted grain.
This invention was really the start of the worldwide commercial success of Scotch whisky (see history of whisky).
There are only 7 grain active distilleries left in Scotland. With the growing interest of lovers for single malt, and as this lovers are quite curious about everything linked with their passion, the market offers since a few years quite interesting products in matter of single grain.
Since the first goal of grain whisky production is to get the more neutral possible result in the field of flavours, just to "equalize" the taste of blended whisky, grain whisky is usually not very spectacular. But, just as malt whisky, it has to mature for at least 3 years in oak barrels in order to deserve the name whisky. But again, its role is not to add flavours to the result, this is the role of single malt. Therefor, very old, inactive casks are used, and very often the spirit does not stay longer in the cask than the 3 years the law requires.
However, as some blended whiskies are marketed with an age statement, some grain whiskies are getting older, as the age announced on the bottle is the age of the youngest component of the blend. So, also the grain whisky has to have this minimum age.
And sometimes, after 20 or 30 years in a (old) cask, the result is very nice, even if againthis was not the first goal. This is not a general rule, but those exceptions very often result in a marvelous spirit.
|Garnheath||1964 - 1988||Moffat||Demolished||Inver House|
|Invergordon||1959||Invergordon||Active||Whyte & MacKay|
|North British||1885||Edinburgh||Active||Diageo and Edrington|
|North of Scotland (Strathmore)