Scottish whisky variations aka “Mom, Dad, and the three kids”.

Quite often, a newcomer to the world of Scotch will find a lot of confusion in the variety of Scottish whisky variations. Blended Scotch, Single Malt, Blended Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Single Grain, and on and on.

I’ve found that the analogy I used when teaching our whisky certification courses has been extremely helpful. I stumbled onto the idea originally from Lew Bryson’s wonderful book, “Tasting Whiskey”. Buy it if you don’t already own it. No need to live a life of regret.

He had this graphic in his book:

5 types of scotch

So let’s break it down.

We’ll start with Dad and Mom.  In this case Dad is “Single Malt Whisky” and Mom is “Single Grain Whisky”.

Single Malt Whisky = Whisky from one distillery made from 100% Barley
Single Grain Whisky = Whisky from one distillery made from a mix of grains

The other three categories are products of combinations of Mom and Dad. For example,

Two Dads = Blended Malt Whisky
Two Moms = Blended Grain Whisky
Dad and Mom = Scotch Whisky

Would it help if you had examples?

Dad = Any Single Malt Scotch.
Mom = Single Grain Scotch like Cameron Brig, or Port Dundas

Two Dads = Blended Malt Whisky like many of the Compass Box variations or Monkey Shoulder
Two Moms = Blended Grain Whisky like Compass Box Great King Street series
Mom and Dad = Blended Scotch like Ballentine’s, Dewar’s, or Famous Grouse