Single malt whisky is a premium whisky which has been much appreciated the world over. A single malt whisky is a type of whisky that has to be made at a single particular distillery. Most single malts are made out of barley. Some big single malt producers make sure that the barley used to produce their single malt is grown by them to guarantee taste and consistency in its production.
Traditionally single malts are directly associated with Scotland. Scotland is one of the largest producing whisky regions in the world. If you are looking for a single malt scotch whisky then you will have to look for a whisky made in Scotland. Though single malt whiskies are made in many different areas of the world, single malt scotch has to be made according to the regulations set up by the Scotch Whisky Regulations. According to these regulations, single malt scotch has to be made specifically with malted barley, has to be distilled in a pot still and finally has to be aged for a minimum period of three years. The casks used to mature these whiskies have to be made of oak and have to have a capacity of not more than seven hundred liters.
However, these specifications are not applicable for whiskies that are marketed simply as ‘single malts’. In fact American single malt whiskies are made by malted rye instead of barley. The aging process for single malt scotch whiskies is also very regulated and specific. All single malt scotches have to be matured for a minimum of three years. However, most single malt whiskies made in Scotland are matured for a much longer period. As the whisky matures, it begins to acquire newer characteristics and develop in taste.
Vatting, dilution and bottling of single malts is another crucial determining factor. Scottish single malt whiskies are made from malted barley or any other malted single grain and made at a single distillery. A single malt can be used to make other whiskies. For example, if a bottle of single malt contains whisky made from more than one distillery this whisky is called a vatted malt or a pure malt or a blended malt. When a single malt whisky is mixed with a grain whisky the resultant whisky is called a blended whisky. Single malts are often bottles by the distillery in which it is made but at times these whiskies are bottled by independent bottlers as well.
American single malt whiskies are blended with rye, wheat or corn. In case of single malt scotch, the whisky has to be made with malted barley. One of the most popular American whiskies is the Bourbon whisky. Bourbon whisky is made mainly using corn. It is a barrel aged spirit and has been under production since the eighteenth century. Bourbon is to America what Scotch is to Scotland. There are very specific guidelines that have to be followed in making a Bourbon. In fact one of the classic similarities between Scotch and Bourbon is that if a whisky has to be called a Bourbon it has to be made in America much like Scotch has to be made in Scotland. Made elsewhere, these whiskies can neither be called Scotch or Bourbon.