Now, there's nothing wrong with blended whiskeys. In fact, the reason the Scots turned to making them in the first place, back in the mid-19th century, was to have something more like the subtler-tasting spirits their cousins across the Irish Sea were selling. Traditional Scotch whisky (they spell it without the e in Scotland) was made from malted barley that was usually dried over peat smoke, fermented, distilled twice to a low proof in relatively small copper pot stills, and then matured in wood casks. The result was a fiery, smoky, thick, and even oily distillate with a rich underlying sweetness, thanks to the malt. Those who loved it loved it well, but it definitely wasn't for everybody, and the results could vary widely from one distillation to another. So, in order to create a more consistent product, Scotland's whisky merchants hit on the idea of mingling the strong-tasting malt whiskies of several distilleries. Then, for a lighter, smoother, and more approachable drink, they further blended that mix of malt whiskies with a high-proof, vodkalike "grain whisky" produced in a fractionating column still, an apparatus that creates a purer spirit than traditional pot stills do.