LEXICON: From Vatted Malt Whisky to Votadini

The letter ‘V’ brings us dangerously close to the end of the alphabet. In case
you’ve been working your way through the lexicon alphabetically, there are just
a few dozen more whisky words, phrases and brands to cover. But let’s not get
ahead of ourselves. Or, if you must, just check ouf the other sections of Malt
Madness for other whisky stuff. Large parts don’t require much prior knowledge.


Dutch whisky importer Van Wees also bottles the series ‘The Ultimate’.
A vatted malt is a blend of malt whiskies from several Scotch distilleries.
The process of 'vatting' involves the blending of various malt whiskies.
Once bottled, the result of the vatting process is known as a vatting too.
Japanese bottler Venture Whisky is known for the 'Ichiro's Malt' series.
A vertical tasting involves several expressions from the same distillery.
The vintage of a malt whisky indicates the year in which it was distilled.
Brands of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company include Finlaggan and Ileach.
Virgin oak casks have not previously contained bourbon or sherry.
The Votadini were a Celtic tribe from southern Scotland / northern England.


Van Wees

Van Wees / The Ultimate Selection

The company Van Wees is located in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.
They started out as a regular liquor store more than 40 years ago, but
quite soon they started importing whisky into Holland by themselves too.
By the 1990s they also bottled Scotch whisky under their own label,
“The Ultimate Single Malt Scotch Whisky Selection”.

A few Ultimate bottlings that I sampled in the 1990s and early noughties were good.
They were never my absolute favourite expression from a certain distillery that I tried, but the prices were
almost always very reasonable, so they usually offered plenty of “bang for your buck”. Bottlings in the
‘The Ultimate’ range are available in their online whisky shop and at several regular liquor stores as well.

Their physical store in Amersfoort offers the best whisky selection in the west of Holland, so the 30 km trip
might be worth it for international vistors to Amsterdam or The Hague. If they really like whisky, that is...

Vatted malt whisky

A few years ago the Scotch Whisky Association enforced a change in the naming conventions for whisky.
In the past a ‘vatting’ of malt whisky has usually been labelled as a vatted malt whisky - and sometimes
as pure malt or straight malt. The SWA introduced a new classification for Scotch whisky which renamed
the vatted malt category as “Blended Malt Whisky”. The SWA claimed that their new rules were aimed at
avoiding confusion among customer, but it was probably a ploy to make the word ‘blend’ sound less cheap. 

Vatting (1)

The word ‘vatting’ probably comes from the large ‘vat’ or tub that was used to blend the contents of
several whisky casks together. Until +/- 1830 the result was a vatted malt whisky by definition, but after
the invention and white-washing of cheaper grain whisky more and more vattings were blended whiskies.
So, vatting whisky is the practice of blending the contents of various casks together.


The vintage of a whisky refers to the year in which the whisky was distilled. For single cask bottlings this
is pretty straightforward. When we’re talking about vattings of multiple casks, all of those casks have to be
laid down in the same year. This somewhat limits the options of the master blender to tweak the profile.

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Vatting (2)

A ‘vatting’ is the result of the union of the contents of several casks of whisky.
Vatting multiple casks together allows the master blender to create a whisky with the desired flavour profile
that fits the current brand profile of the distillery or an expression. It also allows for more consistency between
different batches of the ‘same’ whisky. That being said, single cask bottlings are a tad more ‘authentic’.

Vertical Tasting

A vertical tasting is a whisky testing session that features a number of different expressions from the same
distillery. Comparing (for example) a 12yo, an 18yo and a 25yo bottling from the same distillery can provide
insights in the way that time affects the maturing spirit. Tastings with different expressions from a distillery
that were matured in different cask types are also considered vertical tastings. Meanwhile, a horizontal
tasting session looks at expressions from various distilleries with a similar age and/or cask type.

Virgin Oak

The phrase ‘virgin oak’ is usually used to describe fresh oak casks that have not previously contained
other products like bourbon, sherry, wine or even fish. The use of new oak casks is not ‘traditional’ and until
recently it even used to be illegal. However, it is also a quick and easy way to make a young whisky taste
more ‘woody’. To the untrained palate, such a whisky might appear more mature than it actually is - very
useful in a time when more and more whiskies without an age statement are released to the public. 


The Votadini (or Otadini) were a Celtic tribe that lived in the Scottish Lowlands during the occupation of
Britain by the Romans during the first centuries AD. They lived mostly between Hadrian’s Wall and the
Antonine Wall and for hundreds of years they formed some kind of buffer state between the savage Picts
in the north and the Roman Britons in the south. After the Romans had left Britain, the territory of the
Votadini gradually merged into the kingdom Gododdin.

(* The old technology used for Malt Madness doesn’t allow me to present the information in the most user-friendly
way possible. Check out my new personal website for a fresh attempt at a site, covering a wider range of topics.

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