Many scotch whisky drinkers are pretty clued up on what single malt whisky is these days when sales are increasing the world over, however many are still in the dark about grain whisky which is used in a great number of blended whiskies and in many of the top selling brands. Johnnie Walker, Jameson, Chivas Regal, Bells, Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, J & B all contains grain whisky in some of their most popular blends. Blended whisky still accounts for 90% of Scottish whisky sales.
Grain whisky is whisky made from corn, rye or wheat or some other cereals but not malted barley. For a whisky to be a malt whisky it must contain 100% malted barley. There is also a difference in production where grain whisky is usually distilled in a continuous column (known as a Coffey Still) and as a result normally has less flavour. This is why purely grain whisky is pretty rare compared to single malt. I.e. it just doesn’t taste as good (there are a small number of exceptions). Whisky producers use grain whisky because it is cheaper to produce than single malt whisky however it does have benefits for the consumer as well. Grain whisky is typically smoother and adds this quality when mixed together with single malts, which can be harsh. Our advice if you would like to try a single grain scotch whisky is to make sure it has aged for a long time i.e. over 20 years and (and of course) buy whisky online.