Food & Travel

SINGLE MALT WHISKEY: WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

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Single malts have always had that air of being a superior spirit and they are. At least that is how the less informed discussions sound at men’s tables around the town who just don’t know why. It would be half wrong to blame them. Our pop-culture has played a substantial part in this debacle. From our movies to magazines, we have passed by numerous references to single malts. In some ways that has taken over us fallaciously. Statistics say single malts have enjoyed the best growth in sales among other whisky varieties in the last decade. As the interest in appreciating a good spirit has definitely increased with this, also has the notion of hollow assumptions. Like in the year end celebrations a few days back, a friend of mine brought up this desire to treat us with a single malt. He had chock-full wallet to mark his birthday. His mindset was driven by how single malt would be a top-tier choice to treat in the manliest manner. He professed he did not know why he called for a single malt. He just thought single malt was critical hombre drink and defined sophistication. That is how the pop-culture effect has been hardwiring us. The whole sense of this argument boils down to us learning to make informed choices.

There are only two experiences in the world that are pure: Valor and a single malt .

The Scottish whisky world is majorly divided into two varieties. The single malt and the ubiquitous, blended whisky. A single malt whisky is made from 100 per cent malted barley. Which means a single malt strictly uses a single type of malted grain. A blended whisky is the product of blending different type of whiskies. It is a product of mixing one or more single malt whiskeys together with other grain whiskies or neutral grain spirits. Another important milestone to understanding this whole ecosystem is where the single malt has an edge over blended whiskies. Grain whisky and other ‘fillers’ (which are components of a blend) are usually much cheaper to produce than single malts, so blends containing them are usually much cheaper to buy. This is what makes single malt a more expensive product to produce than blended whiskies. For the taste factor, the single malt wholesomely contains only malted grain. The grain aspect (in blended whisky) is an unmalted cereal such as wheat or maize and it lends itself to a harsher flavor than whisky from malted grains. It is also essentially why single malts are considered more pure and sophisticated in flavor. Thus, Scotch purists generally consider blended whisky to be an inferior drink to the single malt Scotch varieties. We are talking specifically about Single malt scotch here. Single malts are produced all over the world like Ireland and Japan but the best known single malts come from Scotland.

As I write this, I have the legendary single malt conversation between Rahul Bose and Kay Kay Menon from the movie ‘Shaurya’ playing in the background. Menon’s character, an army Brigadier mocks Bose’s characters mild reaction (“Nice”) to the how Single Malt tastes and therefore entire younger generation which is nothing but about convenience, fast food, consumerism and their absolute inability to feel what a purist like him and his clan can. How he exclaims that there are only two experiences in the world that are pure: Valor and a single malt. The splendid portrayal and essence of this affair sums up the whole point about how dedicated pursuit and au courant is the ultimate swagger and misinformed gentility is plain boring. We hope you pay heed to this small introduction to the world of whiskies and brace yourself from the bashing you receive from a brigadier you might meet at some point of your life.

WORDS: KUSHAL GOYAL

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