NB: There are products branded as single malt vodka (so the quick answer is
Yes), but my question is more about whether such statements have any real meaning?
In a discussion the other day a friend pointed out that whisky (/ whiskey) isn't whisky until it's been aged in a barrel for some time. Before it goes into the barrel it's essentially vodka.
That triggered a thought; the "malt" in malt whisky refers to it's being made from malted barley. As such, I assumed that were you to take the pre-aged whisky ("new make spirit" / vodka), that must therefore be a single malt because it has the same malt as the whisky which would be made from it.
My friend pointed out that the single malt whisky is a single malt not because of the malt going in, but based on what comes out of the barrel; i.e. if made in a single barrel it's a single malt, if the combined contents of multiple barrels it's blended. Thus, he argued, calling something single malt before it's been aged makes no sense, even though the ("single") malt is put in before the aging takes place / "no malts are extracted by aging".
I guess the argument's similar to talking about cake mix; i.e. if I baked a chocolate sponge and a vanilla sponge I'd get 2 cakes which would be distinct (even if I mashed them together a bit), whilst if I blended the cake mix I'd only get one cake / technically it was baked from a single mix even though that mix was itself a mix of mixes / the term
single cake mix has no real meaning here (so
single malt vodka wouldn't either).