About the blends

This issue we decided to focus on and how they are viewed by the drinking public. We put two questions to Whisky Magazine's online community at to see what they thought.
By Rob Allanson
Paul Allison, Edinburgh,UK
Joe Casazza,Bellmore,USA
Tim Hain,Reigate,UK Are blends making the whisky world more accessible for beginners and why?PAUL ALLISON Yes, blends are making the whisky world more accessible both in terms of broadening it’s appeal and allowing innovation and experimentation. Whisky needs to appeal more to the under-30 segment and the first rung of the ladder can be a blend, but not necessarily so.JOE CASAZZA Blends tend to be cheaper than their single malt counterparts. A good blend can be bought for under $30 dollars while i am hardpressed to come up with a good single malt for the same price. I know i am always skeptical to try a new dram that costs more than $45 just in case I dont like it. But if my usual price for a bottle is the $40 to $45 range, I’m willing to experiment with a new bottle in that price range, or even below.The same can be said for potential new whisky drinkers, who see a $40 single malt as an extravaganze but perhaps a $25 to $30 bottle is what they spend on a bottle of their liquor of choice, they might go out on the proverbial limb and take a chance on a new taste...TIM HAIN No! I don’t believe blends neccessarily help people into the world of whisky. I had no affinity with whisky, that hot, spirity tasting stuff that got you drunk rather quickly, if not as pleasantly as tequila... until I discovered the aladdin’s cave of flavours within the world of malts and my fascination began with the heavier peaty kind.When I first experimented with blends, having got into malts, I could taste them OK, but they seemed thin, unsubtle and unchallenging by comparison with the singles...I’m talking standard Bell’s, Grouse etc. I have since discovered blends I really like, as mentioned above, and have bought the odd bottle...but I have only known friends convert to whisky via malts.In general, they will move from Glenmorangie to Talisker in about a year!!Is an older blend better than it’s younger companions?PAUL ALLISON In essence no - similar to malts, and indeed whisky in general, older does not necessarily equate to better.Personally, I think that, rather than age, the malt content of the blend makes it better – for example a quality blend to me is Black Bush, where the malt outweighs the grain content apparently by some margin.Another example where malt content is high is Bailie Nicol Jarvie.JOE CASAZZA I agree, it’s all a matter of personal taste. How the blend is made is more important to my taste then how old it really is.REGGIE BLUES I have no deep knowledge of blends, though I know what I have come to enjoy from them.Blackbush stands out for me, as do JW Black and Gold.