Scottish whisky must be distilled and aged in Scotland, and many Scottish whiskies have Scottish malt whiskies at their heart. These are distilled in copper pot stills from only two ingredients – water and malted barley – and aged in oak. But two other key elements in the process are malting and ageing. During malting, barley is soaked, then allowed to germinate just enough to release its natural sweetness, before germination is stopped by heating in a kiln. Where a lot of peat smoke is used, the whisky will have the musky, smoky flavour many of us most associate with Scottish whiskies; in lightly peated, or unpeated, whiskies, creamy, fruity, nutty flavours from the malted barley dominate.
The finish of a single malt Scotch whisky will depend very much on how long it is aged for, where it is aged and what barrel is used for ageing.
However, some of the world's favourite Scottish whiskies, such as Johnnie Walker, Bell's and J&B, are blended whiskies. Here the Master Blender must combining the powerful flavours of whiskies from many different barrels in many different distilleries to create a consistent blend. It’s a craft that’s evident in many premium Scottish whiskies. Johnnie Walker Black Label is made from whiskies aged for at least twelve years. Blended Scotch whiskies pair wonderfully with ginger and apple, are the base for the classic Rob Roy, Rusty Nail and Hot Toddy, and can work in American whiskey cocktails such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned.