Unlike vodka, gin, tequila and even wine, all of which have enjoyed recent booms in popularity, Scotch is bound by very strict rules as to what you can and can't do to extend its appeal. There are three basic types: A single malt is made from water, malted barley and yeast at a single distillery; a blended Scotch such as Dewar's is made from two or more single malts plus grain whisky (inexpensively produced, often from corn or nonmalted barley); and finally, blended malts (also called vatted malts or pure malts), made by mixing single malts without grain whisky. It is this category, perhaps the most palatable of the three, that many whisky producers believe is key to attracting the next generation of drinkers.
One of the best of this breed is the new fourteen-year-old Scottish Leader Blended Malt (price TBD; available exclusively in Europe). Scottish Leader has long been established as a blended Scotch ($36), but this new offering ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a smart, modern whisky. It's understated and easygoing with citrus and soft fruits on the nose and a touch of vanilla. We're not told what malts are in the mix, but as Burn Stewart Distillers, which makes Scottish Leader, owns Deanston (in the Highlands), Tobermory (on the island of Mull) and Bunnahabhain (on Islay), I've got a pretty good idea.