The Aestheticism and Mathematics of Blending
It’s natural to think that ‘Single Malt’ is really ‘single’ and require no blending throughout the making process. Actually blending is crucial to both single malt and blended whiskies, and to be more concise, it requires not only a sense of aesthetics but also a mindset of mathematics. A small discrepancy does matter in the final result.
To Blend is to find out the best answer
Either single malt or blended whisky involves blending process. In the case of blended whisky, the components come from distinguished distilleries. The concept of a ‘single malt’ refers to the fact that all components involve in the blending come from a single distillery. They can be from different vintage, different barrels. It is always the first priority to ensure consistency of flavors within the same series. Secondly, it is through the deployment of blending to produce considerable quantity of whisky in a regular series.
Blending is not only a skill to produce whisky, but also a tool for the distiller to solve possible financial problems. Once there was no market for single malt, distilleries had to sell their whiskies to several blending plants in return of benefits and cash flow. On the other hand, as blended whisky companies have different recipes, it was not a problem for any two blending plants sourcing base from the same distillery. . Nowadays, as result of whisky fever, there was no pressure of over-supply and the market continues to pursue new and fun products. This leads to the opposite side in the supply and demand balance. How to satisfy the unlimited desire of the market with a limited number of distillery? By variation of the proportion of base spirit, we are able to create infinite possibilities. The whisky industry is reviving.
The approachable Glenbrynth
Among the recent dram I had, it was the Glenbrynth that deserves the best value of money. Its entry level ‘Premium Blended Sctoch’ is aged 3 years, which is the legal minimum in Scotland. To assess a whisky, you should consider its pricing – just below two hundred Hong Kong dollars, malts and grains from Speyside and Highlands, and the quality was in fact comparable to a lot of whiskies whose bottles were labelled 12 Y.O. Of course, it was slightly thin in the finish but was quite good overall. The 12 Y.O, which is a blended malt, is actually rare in Hong Kong. The price is approachable though. In terms of flavors, it displays a floral notes and oily soft texture, leaving hints of Cognac-like feeling, which is warm, sweet and impressive especially due to touch of citrus flavor.
Glenmorangie Bacalta - An even bigger Candy House
You can’t miss Glenmorangie when talking about single malt blending. The distillery recently launched its eighth edition ‘Bacalta’, which is directed by Brendan McCarron, the successor of Dr. Bill Lumsden. Following his last project ‘Milsean’, Bacalta uses ex-Madeira barrel in wood finish. The term ‘Bacalta’ is Gaelic which means ‘baking’. This born of this whisky was actually inspired by the ‘pleasant warm sunny days.’ After tasting, I can tell the successor of Dr. Lumsden was keen on sweets. Rather than sunny, I would describe it as a really huge candy house which is constructed by mainly milk candy, coconut candy. If you are a follower of the previous series, or you are sweet lovers, or you are looking for a bottle to please the girls, then just buy it..
近期品嚐的調和作品之中，抵飲首選該是 Glenbrynth 旗下的作品。其入門酒釀 Premium Blended Scotch，陳存 3 年，意思便是指瓶中最年輕的基酒便是 3 年，剛好合乎蘇格蘭對於威士忌的年歲要求。要說酒釀特別之處，必須先看其定價，只是接近兩百港元，麥芽及穀物基酒全來自斯佩賽及高地地區，其酒質絕不輸於不少標示 12 年的調和威士忌，當然在其尾調略感輕薄，不過整體糅合得相當不錯。至於 12 年的作品，是在港較少見的全麥芽調和威士忌，價錢同樣親民，花香滿溢，酒質油厚醇和，在味蕾上有著點點的干邑體系的影子，甜美温暖，尤其那一抹柑橘風味，確是迷人。
談單一麥芽酒廠的自家調配，不能不提格蘭傑。最近酒廠推出第八款珍藏系列 Bacalta，而這次也是由一直被視為比爾‧梁思敦博士接班人的 Brendan McCarron 親自操刀。繼上次創作的 Milsean，今年再逐推出以馬德拉葡萄酒桶進行熟成的 Bacalta。Bacalta 是蘇格蘭蓋爾語，是「烘焙」的意思，而這瓶威士忌的創作靈感正是源自「溫暖宜人、陽光普照的日子」。品嘗過後，似乎接班人挺喜愛甜美口味，與其說以陽光燦爛來形容，其實更像是由一大堆，主要是牛奶糖、椰子糖等糖果砌成的超大糖果屋。如果你是這系列的追隨者，買就是了；如果你是甜美系威士忌的愛好者，買就是了；如果你想找一瓶不失霸氣，又容易討好女生的威士忌，買就是了。