A beginner’s guide to single and double malt

Whisky has a history unlike any other spirit in the world. The consumption of whisky throughout the last few centuries is a proof of its hold on the consumers and connoisseurs. However, if you have just sailed into the sea of malts and grains, and have acquired a love for whisky, it is worthwhile to know about the diverse types of whisky and how they are different.

However, what is whisky anyway?

Whisky is a standard term given to distilled alcoholic spirits made from fermented grain mash. Distillers from around the world make whisky from different grains such as barley, corn, rye and wheat. On the other hand, malt whisky which is most common and readily available type is a product of malted barley.

The combination of malts and grains in diverse ways produces distinct types of whisky.

Single Malt Whisky

Single malt whisky originates from a single distillery and is made from a mash that only uses one type of grain. It is almost always more expensive than other types of whisky. Single malt whisky that comes from a single cask is highly treasured and a favourite among connoisseurs. There are many famous single malt whiskies such as Lagavulin, Bowmore, Aberlour, Talisker and The Ardmore Legacy. However, you’d need heavy pockets for a bottle of any of these single malts. Another thing to know here is that single malt whiskies are produced in various locations around the world, including Scotland, Ireland and Japan. However, the term ‘Scotch’, whether blended or single malt can only be called so if it comes from Scotland.

What is a Blend?

Informally, a blend is a mixture of two or more whiskies, bottled and sold as one. Most distillers produce a whisky that is a blend or a mix of grain whiskies or barrel-aged malt.  

Double Malt Whisky

Double malt whisky is usually vatted malt that has been blended from two different distilleries. Double Malt or blended whisky uses several different types of whiskies with their own single malt as the base of their whisky. For instance, Rockdove by Hermes Distillery is made from select scotch malts, blended with the finest Indian grains, and then aged in oak casks until perfection. It provides a palate of exquisite flavour that can compete with heavyweight and more expensive whiskies. Grain whiskies usually have wheat or maize, or both as the main ingredient.

How to tell the difference between a single malt or double malt/blend?

Single malts are usually expensive and possess a specific fruity taste that is soft on the palate and has a dry finish. However, a blend will often have a more lingering finish and a mix of various flavours. The best way to tell the difference between the two is by tasting them. Blended whiskies usually have an ‘age’ to them, which refers to the youngest whisky used in the blend.

If you are enthusiastic about whisky, trying both single malt and blended will give you an idea about the taste. Whisky price in India differs and depends on many factors such as the age of alcohol, brand, and country of origin. Make sure that the alcohol you’re trying falls in the same price bracket which will undoubtedly make a difference. However, there are some brands such as Rockdove that will indeed give a head-to-head to more expensive brands irrespective of the other scotch price in India. The taste is right up in the alley of more expensive brands, and if you’re not a seasoned drinker, it’d be hard to tell the difference.