There are five categories of Scotch whisky as defined by the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) in 2009. These were drawn up to protect the laws and reputation of Scotch whisky and to make things easier for consumers to understand.
All products must adher to the following laws, otherwise they cannot be labelled as Scotch whisky.
- Distilled, matured and bottled in Scotland.
- Made using just three ingredients - water, cereal and yeast.
- Matured in oak barrels no larger than 700 litres for a minimum of three years.
- Bottled at a minimum alcohol strength of 40% ABV.
- No additives (with the exception of water or E150 colouring)
So, what are the five categories? Matt explains these in the above video, but here are the definitions in a nutshell.
These are distilled at a single distillery and made from 100% malted barley, without the addition of any other cereals. They are distilled in a batch process using copper pot stills.
These are distilled at a single distillery and made from whole grains or other malted and unmalted cereals (most commonly wheat). They are distilled through a continuous column still.
These are a blend of one or more single malts with one or more single grain whiskies, with the single grain used as a foundation. This is the largest category of products.
These are a blend of two or more single malts that have been distilled at more than one distillery.
These are a blend of two or more single grains that have been distilled at more than one distillery.