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January 23, 2012

Whisky Flavor Map


From Big Think:

This map is a handy guide to Scottish single malt whiskies, plotted on a grid with two sets of variables. Horizontally, from light (left) to rich (right); and vertically, from delicate (bottom) to smoky (top).

These are the main taste variables in the vast and bewildering universe of uisge beatha. In Scotland alone, over 90 distilleries produce over 2,000 brands of whisky. Many of those are blended; aficionados will prefer the single malt whiskies, i.e. whiskies produced by one single distillery, using only one type of malted grain, and aged in oak casks for at least three years. Even in the strictly defined and regulated category of Scottish single malt whiskies, there are still over 800 varieties, of which only a few are represented here.

[Whisky expert Dave] Broom developed the aforementioned grid, also known as the Whisky Flavor Map. The map allows samplers of single-malt whiskeys to explore taste relations between them, and discover new ones to their liking.

The horizontal axis differentiates lighter from richer flavours. According to Broom, the Glenkinchie 12 (years old), on the lighter end of the spectrum, "had light floral grassy notes." Clynelish 14, was "more textured, silkier, waxy and unctuous," so halfway between the Glenkinchie and the Singleton of Dufftown 12, with its "nutty, almondly, dried-fruit flavors."

The position on the vertical axis is determined by the whisky’s degree of "peatiness." Peat can be used to heat the pot stills in which the damp malt is dried, during which time the smoke gets into the barley — more time, more smoke, more smokiness. A Laphroaig 10, anyone? If less or no peat is used for the fire, the taste will be delicate rather than smoky, as with a Scapa 14.

[via Michael Castelein and Malts.com]

January 23, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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I've had some of the best Ardbegs and Laphroaigs... simply fantastic, although Islay proved to be an acquired taste for me. Now I've acquired it, there's no going back!

Want an Islay kick on the cheap? Teachers is your friend.

Posted by: Fred | Jan 23, 2012 9:40:11 PM

my favortie is at the top of the list: Lagavulin.

Posted by: melinda | Jan 23, 2012 8:57:35 PM

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