Since I'm deviating from single-malts for a few days, let's try a blended malt. I have at least two but the one that you are more likely to find is Johnnie Walker Green.
As we saw yesterday, a blended malt results when single-malts from several distilleries are combined. In this case, the blended malt has an age statement: 15 years old -- which means that the youngest component is 15 years old. This whisky is comprised of single-malts from the following four distilleries as described on Diageo's website:
Four signature malts provide the key taste influences for this 15-year-old whisky. TALISKER introduces power and depth of character, CAOL ILA contributes mystery and intensity, and at its heart CRAGGANMORE provides a sweet maltiness, while LINKWOOD adds a final touch of finesse.
Of those four, Linkwood is not generally available as a single-malt. You may see it from an independent bottler, or very rarely from the distillery. The other brands produce multiple expressions.
What's it taste like?
- The nose is light and fruity - apples or pears, with something like licorice on the side...perhaps lemon peel.
- On the tongue it's a different story -- the peat from the Talisker is there, with some savory spices like pepper. The peat smoke lingers nicely.
- Way down I can get oak notes (literally the wood itself plus some leather or damp cigars). Vanilla and its cousins may be there but they don't stand out (to me).
- The base is slightly sweet but it's not the first thing you notice. Or the second. :-)
- It's nicely balanced.
So this is I think more complex than a straight blend. The grain whisky in a blended whisky is way lighter and it softens the final product. I don't mean to imply that blended whisky or blended malt whisky is inferior. If you like blends, that's what you should drink - no need to apologize for your choice. Similarly for single-malt drinkers...though it's a rare time you'd be asked to defend your choice because there's a bias in that most people assume that single-malts are "better."
It's true that in many cases single-malts are more expensive, but that doesn't mean they would be universally accepted as superior in flavor. Drink what you like.
But aren't blends inferior to single-malts?
There is no right answer here. Everyone's taste is different. No one should say something is better or worse than something else as if anyone else would share their taste. It's your money...buy what you like and drink what you like. All whisky is the result of painstaking attention to detail and almost any brand has devotees that will name it as their favorite.