In the world of whisky, things have definitely shifted and as a result, many myths that need debunking. As whisky connoisseur Marsh Middleton says, "Whisky is affordable to drink, age does not make a great whisky, all whiskies taste different, and older whiskies do not necessarily taste better."
That flies in the face of everything you’ve always believed to be true of a whisky, right? Let’s start at the top with the taste. To the novice – all whisky might taste the same. But this is simply not the case. All whisky is made from barley, a savoury grain, so there might be a similar broad taste across all whiskies (as one might expect, much like all wine has a similar taste). But if you were to participate in a whisky tasting, be shown a range of flavours and have explained to you the sheer number of differences between each individual whisky, the penny would drop.
The variety of flavours in the world of whisky is vast. There are floral, fruity, sweet, rich, rounded, peaty and spicy flavours to various degrees. No two whiskies will ever taste the same. And here’s why: "Flavour is the beautiful merging of taste and aroma. It is quite magical and lives in your brain. A whisky can only taste sweet, salty, bitter or sour/acidic - that’s it. It can smell like a million different things at once though. And when you put taste and smell together you get the essence of a whisky – you call this its flavour," says Middleton.
"We can then group these whiskies, based on flavour, into various flavour profiles – the likes of fresh, vibrant, rich and bold. So, one cannot really taste a whisky without being exposed to flavour."
The trick is to find your perfect flavour profile, identify a few whiskies that match that profile, taste them, and pick your favourite/s.
For example, if you like the flavours of honey and chocolate, your flavour profile may be rich. You’d probably tend towards Bells Extra Special. If you like lemony flavours, you’d be categorised as frash and might savour a J&B Rare. Coffee drinkers (that’s a bold flavour profile) would enjoy a Johnnie Walker Black Label, and a vibrant person (one who goes for dried fruit and peppery flavours) might quite enjoy a Johnnie Walker Red Label.
To find out what your whisky flavour is, visit the Flavours of Whiskey website
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