Happy Christmas to you all!.
That Santa brings you all good whisky and great moments.
Happy Christmas to you all!.
That Santa brings you all good whisky and great moments.
Like wine, nosing is a big part of drinking whisky. The nose tells us about what is about to come before we drink the whisky and it is together with the taste and the finish of the whisky what distinguish a good whisky of a great one.
Nosing whisky can be a bit hard at the beginning until you get used to the alcohol in the nose. At first it will burn you and make your eyes tear, but on the end you will find one of the most rewarding experiences.
But, where do these aromas came from?
The type and shape of the stills is considered of vital importance of the final aromas and flavor of the whisky.
Pot stills usually impart more flavor than column stills. And between pot stills, the taller one create lighter spirits while the shortest ones create a more dense new make.
Finally, the way the whisky matures impart a great amount of flavor to the whisky.
The type of wood used in the barrel: american, spanish, french, japanese oaks.
The size of the barrels, the bigger the slower the maturation and so the less flavor impart the wood to the whisky.
The temperature and humidity of the warehouses, extreme climates mature the whisky faster than softer ones. Additionally, the hotter the place the faster the whisky evaporate from the casks, this is known as angel’s share. While in Scotland it is around 2%-3% of the total of the cask, in Spain it lose 3% annually and Amrut has created its oldest whisky, Amrut Double Cask, at seven years old when the cask had already lost 60% of its content!.
So, what kind of aromas can be found?
Nosing skills are placed in the right hemisphere of our brain, while talking is on the left one. Nosing is so a creative process, everyone can nose, all of you, unless you have a medical problem can nose. If you think about it you will find that you can nose but it is really hard to say what you are nosing, you can even remember an aroma but it is impossible to explain it with words. Don’t panic! We are done that way, it is a feature, you need to workaround it.
I classify aromas in blocks to help me find what I am nosing:
It is usually the first thing you will nose on a whisky.
Think of sweet:
Smell and think what it remind you more of?
There are many kind of spices but you won’t usually find curry on Whisky!.
Some of the things easier to find are:
- Sherry wine
- Nuts, almonds, walnut, chestnut
- Cocoa, chocolate
- Salt, sea
On whiskies, usually the older they are the more woody flavor they have.
Peat a dead vegetation that died covered in mud. Not very romantic, not fuel-efficient but seems that there is a lot of it in Scotland. If a whisky is peated you will smell that for sure. It is a profile that not most of the people enjoy on the other hand.
On whisky it is easy to find aromas of what it one was; beer.
Fruits are usually sweet, so keep thinking, sweet like what?
- Citrus, lemon, lime, orange
As you see there are many things that are not hard to find at whisky.
But the most important thing that you have to know when you nose whisky is to have fun. Just try to find things and don’t get obsessed by what others says. Most of times, you will coincide on the basic profiles.
Islay Collection is a pack of some Diageo’s Islay whiskies like: Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Port Ellen. It is a pack for peat lovers. So stay away if you don’t like peat whiskies.
It is a cheap way of tasting some great malts like Port Ellen and Lagavulin.
The pack features a 20cl size bottle of:
I got my pack for £70 but it is usually around £100. Anyway given that Port Ellen full bottle is so expensive the pack itself is cost less than the 20cl bottle of PE.
I will post the tasting of the whiskies on the next days.
Master of Malt have launched a Golden Dram Competition in which five lucky winners will receive a year’s supply of whisky from the world’s greatest distilleries.
The competition was launched to celebrate the release of Master of Malt’s dram sets – 24 different tasting sets showcasing the world’s finest spirits. Each set includes five beautifully labelled, wax-dipped samples, specially selected by the Master of Malt tasting team. There is a wide range of sets to choose from including an Old and Rare Whisky Tasting Set, a Regions of Scotland, a Super Peaty Whisky Tasting Set, and many more.
Golden Drams have been hidden in five lucky tasting sets, and if you find a golden dram before the end of November, you win a free Gold Membership (RRP £499.95) into Master of Malt’s Dram Club. Gold members receive a year’s supply of whisky, with 10 exquisite drams every month! That’s a glass of superb whisky every other day!
The complex flavours
These whiskies are more complex on their flavours, usually spices, oak, malt, sweet. They are also a safe bet. My first single malt was a Macallan and it started up my passion about whiskies.
Go and get a bottle of Macallan 10 years old of the Sherry Cask series with that rich oloroso flavour. It is like being at Gonzalez Byass bodega at Jerez.
You can get a bit snob and get a bottle of Amrut whisky, great whisky, sweet, spicy and with a good finish.
Or give a try to Compass Box artisan whisky The Spice Tree.
Highland Park 12 years old is a 4×4 whisky: sweet, honey, vanilla, peat. All on the right proportion and with a great texture and a long finish.
The peaty whiskies.
Peated whiskies are not for everyone: either you love them or you hate them. I personally like them a lot.
Islay, known as “The Queen of the Hebrides”, is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. It lies in Argyll just west of Jura and around 25 miles (40 km) north of the Irish coast and Rathlin Island, which can be seen on a clear day
Islay is the fifth largest Scottish island and the sixth largest island surrounding Britain. It has just over three thousand inhabitants. It has a total area of almost 620 square kilometres (239 sq mi). Its main industries are malt whisky distilling, and tourism largely based on whisky and birdwatching.
Bowmore 12 years old is a peat and salt combination that is hard to forget.
Whisky, like many other things in life, isn’t better for being more expensive, older or being finished in a port wood cask. There are great whiskies on the range of 20€-40€ that you, as I do, can enjoy a lot.
A bottle of whisky, unlike wine that have to be consumed once opened in a few days, can last a lot opened. So expending 50 € on a bottle means that you and your friends will enjoy it several times. Of course unless you do a party
I’ll divide the whiskies in three big categories for this:
The sweet flavours
On this kind of whiskies you will find the kind friendly sweetness of the malt. They are easy to drink and if you like whisky you will like them for sure.
You can get for that money a bottle of The Balvenie 12 years Doublewood, a sweet, honey whisky.
You can jump to the bourbon that is a drink that must be rediscovered, if you tried Jack Daniels and you didn’t like it, give a try to Buffalo Trace.
If you like the style have also a look to Greenore 8 years, great vanilla, sweet, oily.
If I am forced to choose a single whisky that I would have to drink for the rest of my life, and that I would have to keep buying for the rest of my life ( money! always money! ) I would go closed eyes for Lagavulin 16 years old.
It is cheaper than Macallan, more tastier than Ardbeg, peatier than Bowmore and has the great nose of the three. It is peat, sweet malt, with a great thing on the nose that I associate with the Macallan Fine Oak, don’t know: perhaps vanilla? a bit of oak? citrus? floral? I don’t know, I just love it.
Why don’t you read the definitive whisky tasting guidelines
Gerry Tosh explains some tips about how to taste whisky. I find them quite interesting. One of the best parts is about nosing the whisky, and if you can follow him with a glass of whisky and it is incredible how good their tips about nosing three times are.
What do you think? How do you taste whisky?
This year Whisky Bible by Jim Murray is out.
This year best whisky ( or that’s what Jim Murray says ) is Ballantine’s 17 Years Old.
I haven’t tried this one, so I will perhaps do a visit to my shop and get one bottle to give it a try. Anyway I think that Jim scores blends too high, even when he states that he is more strict with blends that with single malts because blenders can get the very best of each distillery and create a great whisky.
On second place we have Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye and in third William Larue Welle. Both of them american whiskeys and both of them out of my reach . It is so hard and expensive to get good whiskey at Europe.
Well, no matter what, I stay stick to my glass of Nikka Yoichi 10 years old. A great dram of which I will post a review soon.
Any thoughts on Jim’s selection?