By Richard Thomas
Vatted malts are all the rage these days, but not every vatted malt is made by an artisan or as consequently expensive as that might suggest. Just as Famous Grouse offers a cheap peaty scotch in the form of its Black Grouse, Cutty Sark offers a cheap vatted malt, or as Sark prefers to call it, a blended malt.
What many a casual American whiskey-drinker doesn’t understand is that single malt does not mean single barrel. Instead, the term means the whiskey is a blend of malt whiskey coming entirely from one distillery. What distinguishes that from a vatted malt is that while the whiskey is still 100% malt whiskey, it comes from a variety of distilleries.
This installment of Cutty Sark comes in a clear glass version of the standard Sark bottle, and not the squatter bottle used for the aged expressions of Cutty Sark. I imagine the choice of clear glass is because the whiskey has so much more color than typical Cutty Sark, which has to hide behind green glass. It’s bottled at 40% abv.
That coloring is of honeyed gold, deep and ambered. The scent is sweet with malty cereals and vanilla, but also somewhat dry and astringent. Thus follows the flavor, with the vanilla leaning over to pick up some toffee, and the astringency mixing with a pinch of pepper. The finish is moderately warm, but a bit bland.
The Cutty Sark Malt retails for $30 in the United States, and is similarly cheap in Europe. That is its big selling point: although a strictly average whiskey, it’s a strictly average malty whiskey, and on the shelf at strictly average prices.