For some reason the professional whisky press has decided that the last couple of years everyone should write an article about how cool standard (read: cheap) blends are. You can’t really open a Whisky Magazine (or Whisky Advocate) without going through reports on the incredible skill that goes into making the bulk of the industry run.
90+% of all (Scotch) whisky that is drank around the world is blended whisky which more or less makes the industry economically viable. And yes, keeping a blend consistent is a work of art and I am not in the nearest capable of doing anything like the great blenders can.
But why, I ask, is it so important to convince whisky geeks, who almost all go for premium malts, ryes and bourbons, that they should spend more time with blends?
It’s a bit like asking someone who enjoys driving his Aston Martin DB9 to take some time and appreciate a Lada, because that’s a car too and most people in the world don’t drive Aston Martins. Isn’t the intended marketing aimed at the wrong people?
Let’s take it from the start of whisky-geekdom:
- We all start in a bar and drink blends/bourbons/JD with ice.
- At some point we get lured to that more expensive bottle of Glenfiddich.
- We realize there’s a lot more to whisky than getting pissed quickly.
- We try a couple of miniatures.
- We start buying obscure stuff at a specialist.
I think that, in short and without all taken detours, sums up what we’ve all more or less gone through. Luckily, most people stay at step 1, and they keep our industry alive.
From my point of view most single malt afficionados just don’t really enjoy the basic blends any longer. According to professionals in the industry ‘crap wood is used to get it to three years and then everything is blended into oblivion’. Whisky geeks like some flavour, depth, richness and diversity. Especially that last bit is tricky to find in blends, if a blender does his work well.
I think we should all enjoy the fact that the entire planet drinks gallons of Famous Grouse and then enjoy our Macallan, Highland Park and other single malts.
In short. Please stop trying to convince me I should spend my hard earned cash on stuff I don’t enjoy and keep articles aimed at whisky geeks interesting for whisky geeks. No, there’s nothing wrong with blends, you’re just barking up the wrong tree.
PS: I’m talking about the press writing about cheap blends. Not premium stuff like Shackleton’s. That’s entirely different.