Why produce a good whiskey  that is neither a single malt nor altogether a blend? It is argued that, while a single may vary according to vintage or season, a vatted malt can be more consistent. Are lovers of malts afflicted by an obsession with consistency? Perhaps the idea is attractive to importers, distributors or retailers who want their own malt label.

 At one point the vatted product was perhaps also seen as an introductory step into the world of malts. Today, with the growing popularity of the singles, less is heard of vatted malts.

The best-known vatted malt is probably Strathconon 12-year-old, produced under the Buchanan label by United Distillers.

 This is described as being vatted from four malts, chosen "one for bouquet, another for flavour, a third for body, the last for its ability to blend all four into a balanced, mellow, flavour." It has a bright, full, gold colour; an appetising, clean, malty-fruity nose; a soft, medium body; a dry, malty palate; and a dry finish. A very pleasant malt.

Another example from United Distillers, this time under the Haig label, is Glenleven. This is identified as a Highland malt, and said to be vatted from six singles. It has a fuller, bronze colour, a hint of peat in its spicy nose; a light to medium, slightly oily body; a malty-smoky palate, and a big, warming, long, dry finish. Quite a characterful whisky.


Where a distillery has ceased to operate, it may keep its label alive by producing a vatted malt. This is true of Glen Flagler. This was a Lowland single malt produced at Moffat, near Airdrie, in the mid-1960s and 1970s. In the mid-1980s the distillery was dismantled, but the label has been continued on a vatted malt. For the moment a proportion of the light-bodied Glen Flagler single malt is being used in the fuller-tasting vatted product.

 The vatted product, Glen Flagler Pure Malt Special Reserve, has a gold colour; both dryness and sweetness in the nose; a soft, sticky body; a sweetish palate; and a slightly resiny finish.

The best use of the vatted malt is that devised by Gordon and MacPhail. Among an interesting range of its own vattings, this company has a series, principally at 12 years old, devoted to some of the classic regions and districts, see below 




This has an amber colour; a lightly smoky nose (a dash of Glenkinchie?); a light, soft, smooth body; a sweetish, aromatic (a hint of grassiness, or linseed?) palate; and some sherry in the finish. Almost too characterful for today's Lowland selection.


 This standard 12-year-old has an amber colour; a hint of flowering

currant in the nose; a medium to full body; a sweet, sherryish palate; and a smooth, malty finish. A 25-year-old Pride of Strathspey has a slightly fuller colour; a firmer body; a drier nose, with a hint of smokiness; more smokiness in the palate; and a dry, smoky finish.


A product that has a fairly full amber color; light to medium peatiness in the nose; a medium to full body; some iodine and sappiness in the palate; and a long, peaty, dry sherryish finish.

Very dry and assertive.


This has an amber-red colour; a heather-honey nose; a medium-to-full, smooth body; a complex, heathery, peaty palate; and a long, warming, dryish finish.

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1 comment:

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