Driven by John Glaser’s “open letter”, I thought I’d revisit this “modest proposal” I made a few years ago.
In the body, you’ll see that I utilize the word Blend in my descriptions – but over the intervening time, I’ve come to agree with John – that the average consumer considers a whisky that is a “Blend” to be inferior.
As such I would happily change the proposal from”Blend” to a less distracting word.
In the end, I fear that the SWA’s original proposal was driven as a reaction to the Cardhu fiasco – and solely focused on protecting the term “Single Malt” to the extent that the other categories of Scotch whisky were hardly considered.
I am sorry to say that I suspect that, at this point, the parties involved may be sticking with their original proposal driven by an obstinate desire to “save face” – more than doing the ultimately correct thing. This suspicion is driven by the fact that both industry insiders and educated consumers have displayed a visceral dislike of the proposal. There has been vociferous response to the terms from these quarters – yet that outcry has been ignored.
At this point, I’m not really sure WHO, if anyone (outside of the proposing body), thinks this is a good idea.
Here’s the bottom line.
Consumers are confused by the whisky category across the board. Why make it worse?
Call a Spade a Spade
Back in August of 2005 (in a story called A Rose By Any Other Name) I talked about the SWA-proposed nomenclature for the whisky industry.
In that story I went over the pros and cons for the existing and proposed nomenclature:
There are several terms in play. Let’s look at them objectively:
There are those purists who feel that the term “Vatted malt” should be used.
This is the term that has been used for years,
and those familiar with Scotch whisky know that “vatted malt” means a
blend of single malts.
All whiskies (aside from single cask) are vatted before bottling.
More than that – The term simply sucks. We are
trying to minimize confusion among and attract new drinkers – who wants
to drink something from a “vat?”
The Scotch Whisky Association wants to use “Blended Malt”:
It’s accurate. The products in question are comprised of a mixture of single malts. In my book, that’s a “Blend.”
Companies producing vatted whiskies feel that
this term demeans the blended malts in question and may cause confusion
among new drinkers through an unwanted association with “Blended Scotch
whisky” the term used when describing a whisky which is created by
combining single malt whisky(ies) with grain whisky.
MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
An alternate term, pushed by some of the vatters is “malt Scotch whisky.”
John Glaser (Compass Box Whisky) was quoted as saying:
“Blends are perceived by
many consumers to be inferior products. The potential damage of using
the word blend is far greater than sticking with vatted malt or simply
using malt Scotch whisky.”