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Background: Although most Scotch whisky is blended from different casks, a firm distinction exists in the minds of consumers and in the marketing of Scotch between single malts and blended whiskies. Consumers are offered cultural, geographical and production reasons to treat Scotch whiskies as falling into the categories of blends and single malts. There are differences in the composition, method of distillation and origin of the two kinds of bottled spirits. But does this category distinction correspond to a perceptual difference detectable by whisky drinkers? Do experts and novices show differences in their perceptual sensitivities to the distinction between blends and single malts? To test the sensory basis of this distinction, we conducted a series of blind tasting experiments in three countries with different levels of familiarity with the blends versus single malts distinction (the UK, the USA and France). In each country, expert and novice participants had to perform a free sorting task on nine whiskies (four blends, four single malts, one single grain, plus one repeat) first by olfaction, then by tasting.
Smith, B. C., Sester, C., Ballester, J., & Deroy, O. (2017). The perceptual categorisation of blended and single malt Scotch whiskies. Flavour, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13411-017-0056-x