After the excesses of New Year. we demonstrate to the world that a January hangover isn't enough to put us down as we up bottle and haggis and pay tribute to the bard.

Whisky is the juice of choice on this occasion. but single malts aside. is there much of a difference between the blends? Well there obviously is otherwise there couldn't be so many difterent brands still available after all this time. Just to recap: Scotch whisky comes in two distinct varieties: single malt and blended. The former is the more prestigious. made exclusively from malted barley and having a flavour often shaped by the enVironment in which it is made. The latter is less flax/Oursome. being made from a blend of malt whisky and grain whisky.

By blending the two styles. costs can be kept down and a reliable. consistent blend can be achieved. Without spending a fortune on a malt you can Spice up yOur Burns night with a decent blend.

Famous Grouse (€12.69 approx. ‘.‘/ld€|y availablei This is the market leader in Scotland and jUSilflably so as it nas every base covered as far as taste goes. There's a deticate sweetness in the fOreground vrith an equally delicate smomness :urking abOut in the background. If it was mentioned that two component parts of the malt cor‘tent were Macailan and Highland Park. then that might explain things.

Bell’s Eight Year Old (521 1.69 approx. widely available) First things first. This whisky used to be awful. It used to take the very unsubtle flavours of lrn Bru to tame it. Things couldn't be more different now and is. in this reviewers opinion. one of the best budget blends going. There is a strong full-bodied sweetness that hits you straight away. a great peppery midground and a big Islay smokey punch in the aftertaste.

Johnnie Walker Black Label (£18.99 approx. widely availablel One of the most famous of the blends. this is immediately quite distinctive on the palate. It tastes less ‘grainy‘ with the overall balance being very sweet and soft. This is classified as a ‘deluxe blend' and as such it uses more malt in the blend than grain.

(Gordon Haggarty)

Food 8: Drink

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