Blended malt challenges ‘snobbish’ ideas of Scotch

Jun 6, 2018by Amy Hopkins

Three Edinburgh-based entrepreneurs have launched a blended malt that they claim challenges the “elitist” view that Scotch whisky should not be mixed.

Black Tartan is the brainchild of Andrew Skene, a former ambassador for Diageo’s Scotch brands in India; Tom Melville, who founded design agency Melville & Young; and Alexander Harrison, who previously owned an events company in Edinburgh and worked extensively with Scotch whisky brands. The brand is said to have a sweeter, “Bourbon-like” flavour profile than is traditionally associated with Highland malts due to its maturation in highly charred barrels, making it “robust enough” for mixers. “We find the traditionally held view that Scotch should never be mixed and should be tasted in a certain way, elitist, snobbish and clichéd,” said Skene. “It represents a barrier to some people to even trying whisky because they are put off by the ‘rules’ around it. “We’re trying to do our bit to change that misconception and reach out to new generations of whisky drinkers. We want to keep it real and let people drink Scotch any way they want to. “It’s totally up to the individual drinker and that’s the point – if you only like it neat or with water then go for it, because that’s a great way to enjoy it. “But it’s not the only way. It’s something we feel passionately about and it’s the reason we created Black Tartan.” The founders of Black Tartan have identified blended malt – categorised as a blend of more than one single malt, without the use of grain whisky – as a “relatively untapped” area of the Scotch whisky market. The brand is targeting markets including the UK and other parts of Europe, as well as Asia Pacific. According to HMRC figures, bottled blended malt exports were worth 1.8% of total 2017 Scotch exports, which reached £4.36bn (US$6bn).