The World of Single Malt Whisk(e)y

March 2020

What is single malt whiskey (SMW)?  The traditional definition is that it is whisky made at an individual distillery from only water and malted barley distilled in a pot still and aged for three years, traditionally associated with Scotch whisky.

Traveling the single malt whisk(e)y road together

Often Single Malt is confused with Single Cask.  Single malt comes from one distillery and a single cask comes from one cask from a single distillery.  A single malt can be multiple casks from a single distillery.

However, due to the global popularity of whiskey, the definition could be changing.  In the United States where we find that most grains used for whiskey production is corn and rye we have an insurgence of craft single malt whiskies gaining in popularity.  Likewise we find single malts coming from Japan, Spain, Germany, Taiwan, France, India, Austria, and Australia to name but a few.

Some countries may not take Scotland’s lead on their traditional definition of single malts, but I’d like to think that distillers with transparency and integrity will follow suit including aging it for a minimum of three years.  The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission was formed in 2016 but as of this writing has yet adapted a definition for the American Single Malt.

With single malts as well as whiskey in general, terroir has a large impact on the final product we love to imbibe.  Terroir, not to be mistaken with a terrier, is not a type of dog, au contraire.   Terroir is the characteristics of the environment that influences the production of what we are drinking.  It takes in account the soil, topography, climate, flora and fauna of the region that contribute to the overall experience of what we’re consuming. 

As we travel the SMW road together in the coming months we’ll be taking a look at the single malts offered throughout the world.  We’ll talk about changes affecting you and I in the world of whiskey, what’s trending and what’s not, how tariffs have affected us as consumers on single malt whisky, the affect terroir has on the whisky in that part of the world we’re discussing.  We’ll review some of these single malts as well as have discussions with those in the industry and more.  

Myself as well as many of you are learning as we go.  When we are passionate about something we want to know and experience more and more.  I’m passionate about Single Malt Whisky, Scotch whisky in particular. The passion has allowed me to experience some amazing whisky expressions.  Together well experience many more.

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