Why did Diageo launch a grain whisky?

Related tags Whisky Scotch whisky Diageo

David Beckham whisky Haig Club
Global drinks giants aren’t known for going against the grain, so why has Diageo launched a grain whisky?

Unlike malt whisky, which is made from malted barley, grain whisky is distilled from unmalted wheat, rye, maize or even corn.

There is also a difference in how they are distilled. Malt whisky has to be produced in pot stills but grain whisky can be distilled in column stills, which results in high alcohol levels and less flavour.

Grain has, therefore, traditionally been seen as the poor relation and used mainly for blending. Then, last week came the news that David Beckham himself, in conjunction with Diageo, is launching one.

And, while Beckham’s involvement in the category will no doubt have the biggest impact, Diageo isn’t the only spirits produced to invest in grain recently.

William Grant brought out The Girvan Patent Still Single Grain Whisky in October last year, while Maxxium has The Snow Grouse, under its Famous Grouse brand, a grain whisky designed to be served straight from the freezer - like a vodka.

So, what’s going on?

The revival that’s happening in brown spirits has yet to reach Scotch - golden rum upset the status quo by providing an exotic, sweet way into the category, and American whiskey is now reaping the rewards of that shift, with its sexy branding and cherry and honey variants.

Grain whisky has the potential to plug the gap between these more accessible brown spirits and Scotch, and so it’s no real surprise that spirit producers are starting to go with the grain rather than against it.

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails

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