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World Whisky Day - Saturday 18th May 2024
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World Whisky Day - Saturday 18th May 2024

The Beauty of Blends

They say confession is good for you, now, who is going to join me and admit to being a member of the ‘I only drink single malt Scotch club’? I am still an active life-long member, though not exclusively. I admit, for a long time I only drank single malt Scotch but lately I've started to appreciate the beauty of blends with a little help from Tanners Peaty Creag.

The world of whisky is precisely that - global. There are vast numbers of distillers who specialise in whiskies across the spectrum of styles, ranging from single malts to blends. It’s World Whisky Day on Saturday 18th May, so naturally it’s the perfect time to explore the global offering of whiskies, but for my first in-depth dive into whisky with you, let’s keep traditional for the time being and stay locked into whisky’s honoured heartland, Scotland. I promise to explore the other wondrous whiskies and bourbons that grace our shelves in future blogs (if my ramblings are allowed).

I am by no means completely dismissing single malts (a product of one distillery), but single malt Scotch can, at times, become engulfed in terms such as age statements, limited releases, new distilleries and cask investments etc. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with such vocabulary which can often appear on blends too. But, sometimes it feels that these terms ‘consume the consumer’ when it comes to single malts, we forget that whisky is just meant to be enjoyed by the glass, pure and simple and perhaps, this is where blends flourish.

There are three main categories of blends. Firstly, there is blended malt Scotch. This is a product of more than one Scottish distillery using only malted barley, water and yeast. We then have blended grain Scotch whisky, which again is a product of more than one Scottish grain distillery, but the core ingredients consist of both malted barley, cereals, water and yeast. The final category is blended Scotch whisky whose core ingredients consist of malted and unmalted barley, cereals, water and yeast. A blended Scotch can be a mix of more than one malt whisky and more than one grain whisky from across numerous Scottish distilleries. Blends have this familiar, welcoming presence that just cannot be pinpointed, but we feel comfortable when we see them. Even if you aren’t a whisky drinker, I guarantee that if you see a bottle of Famous Grouse (a blended Scotch) or Johnnie Walker Black Label (also a blended Scotch) then you can instantly associate them with whisky (or more specifically, blended whisky). For years they have filled hip flasks and drinks cabinets, for decades they have held a lovingly stable position on Tanners’ shelves and for at least two centuries they have been sold across the country and further afield. Blends such as those named above are iconic, and quite rightly so, for they have played - and continue to play - a significant role in the industry.

Blending is both an art and a skill. For blended Scotch, the skill of combining both malt and grain whiskies from across multiple distilleries is not something to be sniffed at. In fact, the creation of a bottle invites the lucky dram holder into a deep dive of flavour. Blending is a dedicated task which has to intricately marry various flavour profiles whilst also withstanding tests of reliability and consistency across huge batches successively. A firm favourite, Famous Grouse epitomises a traditional blend. I’ve encountered people who snub it, but considering each year 43 million bottles are enjoyed globally surely this is a blend to be revered. The golden hue, the aroma of candied peel and buttery biscuits lead into soft baking spices and glimpses of toasty vanilla on the palate; Famous Grouse is truly a champion of blends.

For those who prefer a smokier style of whisky, be that a light delicate hint on the nose or perhaps a burst of smoke before the glass has even been lifted, blends are a perfect way to dive into soft peaty aromas and flavours. And what better way to celebrate a smoked Scotch blend than to showcase one of our finest exclusive house lines, Tanners Peaty Creag, 8 year old blended Scotch. A crafted masterpiece by the distinguished Ian MacLeod distillers, it has been a firm favourite of customers since its inception. A truly exceptional example, with a higher proportion of malt than wider commercial blends, the distinct Island-influenced peaty character is enveloped with notes of smooth toffee and molten caramel.

Time again, Tanners’ signature blend is called ‘good old Peaty Creag’; it’s become an old friend. Picking up a bottle brings back those familiar warming feelings and memories of each of our encounters with Peaty Creag. Now, I may not have been Tanners long, but I distinctly recall my first glass of it and each sip takes me back to Tanners. Where does your sip take you?

Let’s raise a glass to blends, our old friend!



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