You won’t find many spirits with a backstory as rich as whisky. Its origins go back 1,000 years when monks from mainland Europe migrated into Scotland and Ireland, and began to ferment grains to make up for the lack of grapes and vineyards. These days we have countless types of whisky, but the biggest difference is between single malt and blended whiskies. If you’re going to serve up legendary drinks to your crew, it’s worth knowing what separates these two types. Here’s everything you need to know.
Single Malt Vs Blended
When someone says they prefer single malt, it simply means they like whisky made from a single distillery. Alternatively, blended whisky is made by skilfully combining different single malts and grain whiskies to make something rich and complex.
Only your tastebuds can tell you which you prefer, so the smart way to find out is to try for yourself. You could discover a single malt with a one-of-a-kind flavour you can't find anywhere else, or you might prefer how a skilfully blended whisky brings together a world of flavours.
We produce a wide range of blended Scotch whiskies, expertly combining different malt and grain whiskies to create something effortlessly smooth and packed with varying flavour notes. Blending like this is an art form, similar to how great chefs take high-quality individual ingredients and create something outstanding. As Chivas Regal Master Blender, Sandy Hyslop puts it: “Blending whisky is like cooking: the ingredients are all unique but when those ingredients come together, you can create something extraordinary and complex.”
What Single Malts And Grain Whiskies Are Used By Chivas?
At Chivas Regal, we use a blend of single malt and grain whiskies from Scotland’s very best distilleries. These include the hugely respected Strathclyde and Longmorn distilleries, and of course, the legendary Strathisla distillery, which produces the single malt at the heart of our blends.
Based in the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands, this picturesque distillery is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland, dating all the way back to 1786. The single malt from here has a flavour profile like no other, full of the rich, floral and fruity notes that play a vital role in all Chivas whiskies. You can even visit Strathisla personally to try the single malt at its source.
Chivas Ultis is our only blend made without grain whisky, but instead uses an elegant blend of five hand-picked single malt whiskies that pays tribute to five generations of Master Blenders. But grain whiskies shouldn’t be overlooked - they provide the creamy taste that brings the single malts together, creating the characteristic smoothness found across all Chivas whiskies.
To be a Chivas Master Blender requires world-class expertise and unbeatable knowledge about everything whisky-related. And as the current Master Blender, Sandy Hyslop explains, a good sense of smell is essential: “A Master Blender is someone that has a fantastic sense of smell. Your nose is by far the most important tool as a professional blender. To put it in context, I probably nose 1,500-2,000 samples a week yet taste around five.”
These skills are used to work out exactly how a whisky’s blend of characters will combine and develop over time. This goes back centuries, to when James Chivas started experimenting with the art of blending in the 1800s, leading to the kind of smoother and more consistent spirit that his customers loved.
Chivas Regal pushes the boundaries of Scotch whisky. You can taste this in the use of cask finishing in our innovative Chivas Extra 13 range. These selective finishes and maturations involve drawing notes from the liquids previously stored in the barrels - such as sherry, rum, tequila and rye - to enhance the flavour of the whisky.
How To Drink Blended Whisky
When it comes to whisky, Chivas combines tradition with cutting-edge modern ideas to create a range of incredibly versatile blends. There are countless ways to drink Chivas whisky, from neat or over ice to showing off your mixology skills with crowd-pleasing cocktails.
Take advantage of the smoothness of Chivas 12 by mixing it with soda water to create the classic Whisky Highball, or use the exotic notes of the Extra 13 range to fresh and original cocktails such as the Extra Sangria or the gloriously tropical Extra Colada.
For the ultimate flex, Chivas Ultis delivers a powerful blend of single malts that you won’t find anywhere else. Need something for a big celebration? Nothing beats a Chivas XV champagne cocktail when it comes to kickstarting a major league party.
Whether you prefer Chivas neat or at the heart of a party-starting cocktail, there’s a perfect Scotch whisky out there for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or a beginner, knowing the difference between single malt and blended whisky and how to use them can help you become a legendary host.