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A Short Summary of Whisky

Though Whisky is now distilled in many countries, the standard or benchmark that is most use will certainly be that of the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association), the custodians of the image, quality and provenance of this noble beverage that is synonymous with Scotland.


Having earned the respect and reputation the world over, the SWA stipulates regulations and procedures on production, aging and   classification for Scotch Whisky distilleries and independent bottlers that endeavour to have their whiskies labelled as Scotch Whisky.  These strict rules were instituted to ensure quality standards and to protect the Scottish branding of their Whiskies. We hope that the following   explains the processes and various classifications of Scotch Whisky that can sometimes be confusing even to veteran consumers of Whisky.

Whisky or Whiskey?

Whisky : Scotland, Japan, Canada & Australia

Whiskey : Ireland & USA


Whole Grains used in Whisky

Rye – Spice, Dried Fruit

Wheat – Mellow, Honey

Corn – Sweet, Spicy, Oily

Barley – Cerial, Biscuity


Scientific Definition of Malt: Germinated Whole Grain

Hence in Science, malt could be germinated Rye, Wheat, Corn or Barley

BUT, in the world of Whisky it only refers to Germinated Barley.

3 main Classifications of Whisky:

Malt Whisky

  1. Single Cask Malt

  • A truly unblended Malt Whisky

  • Whisky from one Malt Whisky Cask

  2. Single Malt

  • A Blend of various Malt Whiskies from One Distillery

  • Whisky from more than one Malt Cask

  3. Blended Malt

 The legal term for Malt Whiskies put together from more than one Distillery

 Also classified as:

  • Vatted Malt

  • Pure Malt

  • All Malt

  • 100% Malt



Grain Whisky

 Distilled from any Mash combination of:

 Wheat - Unmalted or Malted

 Rye - Unmalted or Malted

 Corn - Unmalted or Malted

 Barley - Unmalted

 Plus must have Malted Barley for conversion of complexed sugars in the Mash Bill to simple sugars as well as to give richness and structure.


  1. Single Cask Grain

  • A truly unblended Grain Whisky

  • Whisky from one Grain Whisky Cask

  2. Single Grain

  • A Blend of various Grain Whiskies from One Distillery

  • Whisky from more than one Grain Cask


Blended Whisky

 A Blend of one or more:

  • Malt Whiskies

  • Grain Whiskies

 Simply it is the mixing of the 2 categories above ie Malt and Grain Whiskies from as many distilleries as needed, hence sometimes termed “Scotland in a Bottle”.

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