Scotch blends: Whisky symbiosis

08 October, 2018

Greg Dillon, founder of Greatdrams whisky blog, says: “I see the trends in blended scotch whisky to be centred around fun times, more up-tempo drinking occasions using simple serves – we have seen a raft of brands talking about highballs this year, Johnnie Walker especially at its F1 activations around the world and Dewar’s Scotch Egg Club events too.

“In terms of styles I think there are some interesting blends out there at the minute playing on different flavour intrinsics, from the incredible smoothness of Dewar’s to the depth and diversity of the Ballantine’s range to the characterful Remarkable Regional Malts range from Douglas Laing and the easy-drinking Johnnie Walker range. They all stand for something, but ultimately all are about easy-drinking, volume sales.”

BACKSCRATCHING

It is difficult to suggest that either blends or single malts will ‘take over’ entirely from the other because there are still lots of ways in which they mutually benefit. Glenkinchie Distillery, for example, installed a new heat exchanger which has reduced its water usage by 20% and energy consumption by 3%. This was made possible through the huge investments put in by Diageo to improve its blends, which in turn will allow Glenkinchie to produce more of its own whisky.

Dillon adds: “Thankfully, blended scotch and single malt scotch are intrinsically, linked so I don’t think one or the other will be ‘the future’, but I do think with the expansion of The Macallan, Glenfiddich’s incredible uplift in future production capacity, The Glenlivet’s expansion and various other distilleries, we might see a rebalance in the volume sales of blended scotch and single malt scotch.

“How that plays out we shall see as it will take many years to come to fruition. In the short term? A lot more non-age-statement whiskies will be released, but brands that are built on age statements will make more of this and spend a lot of time and money extolling the virtues of proudly having a number on the bottle.”

If we imagine that blended scotch is the crab in this situation and that single malts are the fire urchin, at the moment single malts are able to gain a lot of production capabilities off the back of the huge international volumes shifted by blends.

But if this popularity begins to even out in the future, then the responsibilities to fund innovation may lie with bigger distilleries which can’t rely on selling their whisky to blends.





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Dominic Roskrow

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