So when we talk about single and blended malts, we're talking about barley whiskeys. Single malts come from one area, single process, and then put directly into the barrel. Blended malts will take different expressions of different whiskeys made in different areas and blend them together to get a consist or unique taste.
Single malts can be made anywhere, not just in Scotland, although most people think of Scotland when they think of single malt whiskey. It's something that really expresses the Teruya, the local flavor and character of where the crops are grown and the process by which you distill them.
You can make single malt whiskey anywhere. There are American single malts, there are Japanese single malts, there are Indian single malts. The difference between the two is a question of the grower's art and the distiller's art. The single malt is going to reflect the place where it's grown, the method by which it's produced, whether it's put in a column still or an Olympic copper still, whereas a blended whiskey happens after everything has been made, after everything has been distilled.
It is then blended to taste and can be aged afterwards. This whiskey, the Hibiki twelve year blended, is blended from a variety of different Japanese single malts and then is put into barrels for twelve years to sort of marry and intermingle. Whereas this single malt, from upstate, is grown in the Hudson Valley, distilled there. It expresses notes of smoke, stone and earth, whereas the Hibiki is a lot lighter, softer, a little more floral, reflecting the different barley's that it is grown from in Japan.
In essence, the difference between single malt and blended is manufacturing technique. They're both aged, one's as good as the other depending on the quality of the ingredients that go into it. But really when you're talking about single malt and blended, you're talking about barley whiskeys, scotches, things like that. That's a quick rundown of blended versus single malt.