Scotch Grain Whisky

29 Jan

I enjoy Scotch Grain Whisky and wanted to write about it and encourage you to seek it out and try it (I’m lucky to have access to an excellent retailer that sometimes stocks these relatively rare expressions). Actually, there are a lot of great retailers in the Bay Area besides Beltramo’sD&M, John Walker and Company, The Whisky Shop and Cask Spirits that may be good places to search.

Virtually all Scotch Grain Whisky is used as an ingredient within Blended Scotch Whisky, but some is bottled as Single Grain Scotch Whisky. Honestly: You’d do well to seek it out. It’s an excellent product, but be warned…it can be more expensive due to the rarity.

What is it?

Simply, Scotch Grain Whisky is a type of Scotch Whisky not made exclusively from malted barley (that would be either Single Malt Scotch Whisky or Blended Malt Scotch Whisky), nor is it Blended Scotch Whisky (which includes a mixture of some amount of malt whisky and some amount of grain whisky). The ingredients may include one or more of the following cereal grains:

  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Barley (un-malted!)
  • Others (I’ve heard of Oats being used)

There are two kinds of Scotch Grain Whisky: Besides Single Grain Whisky there is also Blended Grain Whisky. The difference is that, as with Blended Malt Whisky, Blended Grain Whisky is combined from the output of multiple distilleries. You don’t often find distillery Official Bottlings of Single (or Blended) Grain Whisky; you are more likely to find grain whisky expressions from independent bottlers.

Single Grain Whisky can also include malted barley, but it’s a relatively expensive ingredient. Technically, as far as I can tell, all Scotch Whisky has to have at least a small amount of malted barley or malt whisky.

What does “single” mean, again?

Given that Single Grain Scotch Whisky can be built from multiple grains, what does “Single” mean? It means that the product is mashed and distilled at a SINGLE DISTILLERY.

How is it made?

That’s another difference from Malt Whisky: Grain Whisky is produced in a completely different kind of still that runs continuously. It was invented by a man called Coffey, so you’ll sometimes hear this type of still referred to as a Coffey Still. Scotch Malt Whisky is made in pot stills in a process wherein the still is charged then processed until it is empty, after which it must be cleaned and charged for the next run.

Why is Grain Whisky important?

Grain whisky, by being the high-volume high-output product that is the largest component of Blended Scotch Whisky, helps create a huge market for Single Malt Scotch Whisky. A lot of malt whisky has to be created to support all that grain whisky…just to meet the demand for Blended Scotch Whisky. Sadly, a lot of Single Malt Scotch Whisky is produced exclusively for blending, and some allegedly fabulous malt whisky is never bottled as a Single Malt Scotch Whisky because the blenders need all of the production for their blends. Examples of these rare malt whiskies would be Linkwood and Mortlach.

Can you be less specific?

What are some grain whiskies that you might never have heard of?

These are light and flavorful and go well in warm weather. You have plenty of time to find some good choices to share with your friends. Go to it!


Posted by on 29-January-2011 in Whisky2.0



5 responses to “Scotch Grain Whisky

  1. whiskywall

    31-January-2011 at 09:04

    Nice introduction into grain whisky. It doesn’t get a lot of attention and can be hard to find. It doesn’t help that they are usually pretty old and expensive – at least the ones that I have seen. As a result I have actually had more single grain Japanese whisky than Scottish.

  2. whisky2dot0

    31-January-2011 at 09:14

    I have a Single-Grain from the “North of Scotland” distillery, bottled by Scott’s Selection. It was mis-priced (I think) at well under $150. It’s now closer to $300. Anyway, it’s the oldest whisky I have, at 40 years.

    Try some Compass Box for cheaper (relatively!), and younger expressions. They do a lot of grain whisky expressions.

    • whiskywall

      1-February-2011 at 13:35

      I have had that one before. It was interesting and different but good nonetheless. Will not be spending $300 for a bottle of it though….

      • whisky2dot0

        2-February-2011 at 06:05

        I agree…$300 is out of my league. I’m glad I got it at the low-low-low price I mentioned!


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