Saturday, 26 November 2011

Change Is In The Air: The Last Vatted Malt

Drink fuelled fun with friends at Uni...
one of the hardest things to let go of!
All good things come to an end, or so they say. Maybe it's because if we have too much of a good thing it loses its edge and fades into the dismal grey background of the dreaded norm. Or maybe they seem better in the utopia of nostalgia. Either way, what has gone before, or that which is no more, has a habit of seeming greater in hindsight than maybe it was in reality. I am a big advocate of change. If it ain't broke, break it and change it. The world would be a hideously boring and flaccid place otherwise.

Language changes too, old words leave and new words join our vocabulary each year. Who uses 'fallociloquence' (a deceitful speech) these days except in reference to the mutterings of News International executives before Parliamentary Committees; or 'schismarch' (a founder of a schism)? Language changes - and this brings me on to vatted/blended malt whisky. As of the 23rd November 2011, whisky that is a blend of two or more single malt whiskies can no longer be called 'vatted whisky' and must be called 'blended malt whisky'. The Scotch Malt Whisky Association argue that 'vatted' is too archaic a word to be understood by the public. Others argue that 'blended malt' and 'blended grain' sound too similar to 'blended scotch whisky'. I have to say in this instance I agree with SWA's decision, if not for the same reasons. I think there should be a catch-all term for blended malt/vatted malt/pure malt, and I think it does the public a disservice to imply that the difference between blended malt/blended grain/blended is too confusing to be understood, as suggesting the word 'vatted' is beyond them also. What I will say is that I spend as much time explaining what a single malt is as I do explaining blends and blended malt. Things change and 'blended malt' will one day be a term as part and parcel of whisky as 'vatted malt' was. Still, it's an excuse for those rebels at Compass Box to release another excellent bottling!

The Last Vatted Malt
53.7% - Bottled by Compass Box
Nose: Smoke with seabreeze and fishing port scents of menthol, iodine and, with time, toffee.
Palate: Soft smoke giving way to golden syrup and medicinal quality.
Finish: Peppery with sweet phenolic smoke and a hint of stewed strawberries, a little short perhaps.
Overall: A great marriage of peat and sherry cask. Those gutsy Caol Ila flavours rampage about followed by the stroke of sherry. Farewell vatted malt whisky.

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