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Do You Really Taste Salt?

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Do you really taste salt in whisky?

Yes
31
76%
No
7
17%
Unsure
3
7%
 
Total votes : 41

Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Wub » Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:28 pm

Salt is mentioned quite often in tasting notes, especially in relation to Islay/island/coastal distilleries. I'm pretty sensitive to salt (I find most salted snacks way too salty), and I don't think I've ever actually tasted salt in a whisky.

What do other people think?

PS: I found this article in the article archive and used one of my tokens to open it:
http://www.whiskymag.com/magazine/issue31/12005449.html

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby The Third Dram » Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:28 pm

"...distillation is one of the best desalination techniques there is."

I don't for one moment doubt the validity of this statement. However, you will note that no claim is made as to the absolute removal of salt via distillation as is typically practiced in a malt whisky distillery, simply because multiple sequences of distillation and redistillation (and even then, better through a purpose-built purification still more along the lines of a column rather than a pot still or alembic) represent the only way to ensure 100% separation and removal of suspended impurities (including minerals). And surely, this is not what any malt distillery 'worth its salt' (sorry, I couldn't resist) is all about.

There are many compounds that percolate through the whisky distilling process. And these are precisely what help to imbue each single malt with many of its unique characteristics. Hard water or soft. Brackish, peat-laden water or clear. Factor in the manner in which these different waters interact with the stills employed at various sites, and you have a sure-fire recipe for variety - even before the distillates from these places meet wood.

I can taste saltiness in many whiskies, and that's a good thing! :wink:
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby lockejn » Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:57 pm

I often note saltiness in certain whiskies, but I think it's less the taste and more a sensation on the lips and tongue.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby pkt77242 » Sun Aug 02, 2009 9:01 pm

I taste salt in malts fairly often and it is definitely a flavor I enjoy.

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Plastiquehomme » Sun Aug 02, 2009 9:18 pm

I don't usually, but I certainly have. At a tasting I went to recently, I tried a 21 YO Old Pulteney (delicious dram, by the by) and that had extremely strong salty notes.

Having said that there are a number of other malts friends have said they thought were salty (Ardbeg Renaissance pops to mind) that I didn't taste salt at all.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Willie JJ » Sun Aug 02, 2009 9:40 pm

I definitely believe that I can taste salt in whisky. I'm not sure that we can say that distillation will necessarily remove all salty flavours from whisky. After all I'm pretty sure that the the distillation process gets all the oranges out of the wash but I can still taste them in a lot of whiskies.

There is a theory that whiskies like Pulteney are replacing evaporated spirit from the cask with salty air as they are matured on the coast. It makes as much sense to me as anything else about the complexity of whisky flavours.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Mr Fjeld » Sun Aug 02, 2009 9:43 pm

I find Springbank very salty. I have not knowledge about chemsitry so I cannot say it's salt - but I'm sure it's somehing causing the sensation?
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Aidan » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:22 am

Ardbeg 17 is too salty for me.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Liechtenstein » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:29 am

lockejn wrote:I often note saltiness in certain whiskies, but I think it's less the taste and more a sensation on the lips and tongue.


I think that the tongue tastes salt mainly on its tip and on its center. When the «salty» receptors on your tongue are stimulated by a drink, by a food, or by table salt, the taste is perceived as «salty» whether or not it actually contains NaCl or another salt.

So, to answer your question: Yes, I do taste salt in whiskies.

:D
I'll have a cheap blend and a salt shaker, Bartender.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Ganga » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:25 am

Aidan wrote:Ardbeg 17 is too salty for me.


Send it my way then. :D

I like a little brineyness to my maritime whiskies. Jura I find way too much of this notes.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby borgom » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:57 am

I sure do taste salt/brine in some whiskies especially in many coastal/island/islay whiskies.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Aidan » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:25 am

Liechtenstein wrote:
lockejn wrote:I often note saltiness in certain whiskies, but I think it's less the taste and more a sensation on the lips and tongue.


I think that the tongue tastes salt mainly on its tip and on its center. When the «salty» receptors on your tongue are stimulated by a drink, by a food, or by table salt, the taste is perceived as «salty» whether or not it actually contains NaCl or another salt.

So, to answer your question: Yes, I do taste salt in whiskies.

:D
I'll have a cheap blend and a salt shaker, Bartender.


I think I heard that that's a myth. You taste salt all over your tongue. I could be wrong.

Ganga

If I had any 17 left, I'd send it your way. Alas, it's all gone. I think I hvae some in minis from those Story of Peat sets.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Liechtenstein » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:52 pm

Aidan wrote:I think I heard that that's a myth. You taste salt all over your tongue. I could be wrong.


Actually, before writing my post above, I tested the «myth» out by putting a bunch of salt on my tongue!

The myth is right! try it yourself!

:yuk:
disgusting!
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Aidan » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:04 pm

You could be right, but I read somewhere that it's a myth.

Here's an article - http://www.livescience.com/health/06082 ... ongue.html
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby johan brugge » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:06 pm

lockejn wrote:I often note saltiness in certain whiskies, but I think it's less the taste and more a sensation on the lips and tongue.

This is exactly what I think about it. The flavour of salt that sticks on your lips from a whisky can be compared with the salty sensations when you've been swimming in the sea. (just don't swallow that sea water)
My biology books said that you taste salt the best in both sides of your tongue, just behind the tip of your tongue.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Aidan » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:24 pm

johan brugge wrote:My biology books said that you taste salt the best in both sides of your tongue, just behind the tip of your tongue.


So did mine, but I think they're now suggesting that this is just something went unchallenged for a century.

Anyway, I don't want to sidetrack the discussion. Sure it doesn't matter anyway.

I find some whiskeys very salty, whether it's salt or not, I don't know. I also get citrus in some whiskies, but I've never found a lemon in my glass.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby johan brugge » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:42 pm

Yes, I've also read about the 'umami' factor. Like you I can taste salt or brine in my whiskies, which I can understand when they're being made near the sea or when the casks are matured close the sea but I'm always puzzeled how some can taste like citrus.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby The Third Dram » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:54 pm

My own research, carried out in 2006 for a cigar-related article on the human parameters of aroma and taste discernment, indicated the following...

"The human sense of taste recognizes four characteristics - sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness. Alkaline and metallic are sometimes also included. Each taste bud is tuned to react to one of these.

Category-specific taste buds occupy different regions of the tongue. Sweetness and saltiness are predominantly sensed on the tip and front portion, sourness mostly along the edges and bitterness at the rear."

Given that sweetness and saltiness tend to be sensed by the same flavour-tuned taste buds, and given that the sweet-salt complexity and balance of various single malts differs (stylistically) widely, it is no wonder that this set of perceptual factors plays a significant role in how we view whiskies, especially as concerns our initial impressions.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Aidan » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:00 pm

I think there's another savory one too, as mentioned by Johan. It's called umami.

If we're told something often enough, it's easily believed. I always assumed my text books from school with the map of the tongue was accurate, but it now seems that the taste buds that detect salty flavours are all over the tongue, as are the other taste buds.

It's interesting. I read, maybe in the article I posted above, that wine glasses were supposed to be designed to make the most of the taste map of the tongue.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby lockejn » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:16 pm

lawschooldrunk wrote:clynelish and oban :yuk:
Two of my favorites. :mrgreen:

Not having anything particular to do with the salt, though.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby r900p » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:12 am

I only really noticed salt in whiskies when up at the Newcastle Whisky Fest (Manchester and York ones being planned now).

This was in a Yamazaki 18 i think but i did try the whole line, the salt was so good i popped out and bought a bottle.

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Swedish Chef » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:01 pm

Yes I do, and like it. The first that comes to mind is an 18yo Old Pulteney.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby talisker10 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:33 pm

Yes, especially Old Pulteney 12 and Clynelish. Clynelish is way too briny, salty and I do not like it.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Wub » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:32 pm

It seems I'm in the minority. I'm even beginning to doubt my own judgement (perhaps I should have voted "Unsure").

I think there's a difference between "tasting salt" and "perceiving saltiness". I have no doubt that people are perceiving saltiness, but I still doubt that they are tasting salt (it may just sound like semantics, but I think you know what I mean).

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby dramtastic » Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:24 am

Yes. It doesn't matter if there is actual sodium in it. In the case of SM whisky there is a few key ingredients, maybe a level of peating, time of maturation and the cask or casks they're matured in (basically).

Check out any of the tasting notes you read on this site or whisky article or book. There's any number of flavors members and writers perceive that are not ingredients in SM's.

Unless I'm wrong neither leather, pear, apples, pepper, straw, burnt rubber, lychees, vanilla, banana, cinnamon, ham hocks etc etc are ingredients in SM's but they can be smelled and tasted in varying degrees in various malts by different individuals.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Wub » Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:57 pm

dramtastic wrote:Unless I'm wrong neither leather, pear, apples, pepper, straw, burnt rubber, lychees, vanilla, banana, cinnamon, ham hocks etc etc are ingredients in SM's but they can be smelled and tasted in varying degrees in various malts by different individuals.


Yes, but most of those can probably be traced back to known congeners: a banana note might come from isoamyl acetate, and the medicinal aroma in some heavily peated whiskies probably comes from 4-ethylphenol.

I've been doing some research. :)

I don't think it's that simple (if simple that is) with saltiness.

PS. Here's one of the articles I found in my researches:
http://iufost.edpsciences.org/articles/ ... 000924.pdf
It concerns the chemical analysis of three blends.

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby bbrownri » Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:43 pm

I had a glass of Caol Ila 12 last night and definitely tasted the salt. I wouldn't say it was like a dirty martini or anything like that (I can't stand those things, even though I'm a fan of green olives) but I think somewhere in the maritime flavors there is some taste or mouthfeel reminiscent of salt.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby pkt77242 » Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:33 pm

Couldn't the salt taste/flavor come from the water used to take the whisky down to bottling strength? Many distilleries talk about using local water in the whisky.

I also like Willie's theory on salty air replacing the evaporating spirit at coastal distilleries.

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Wub » Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:10 pm

C_I wrote:Oh no :shock: not the "fruit in my whisky" discussion again.... ;)


:-) I figured this would be old to most here...but it's new to me.

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby lockejn » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:14 pm

Run a search for posts by JohnyyGuitar and you'll start to get a sense for what C_I was teasing about.
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Wub » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:28 pm

lockejn wrote:Run a search for posts by JohnyyGuitar and you'll start to get a sense for what C_I was teasing about.


Oh yeah, I saw one of those threads: "Whisky tastes like whisky"...he seemed particularly obtuse.

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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby borgom » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:14 am

lockejn wrote:Run a search for posts by JohnyyGuitar and you'll start to get a sense for what C_I was teasing about.

That guy made some pretty funny comments - was he serious or a comedian?
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby lockejn » Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:02 am

I believe the proper Internet terminology is "troll". :insane:


ETA: graphic
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby randall fairbrook » Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:59 am

i voted no

in my opinion it is not the traditional iodized salt we taste in our drams...

it is brine, ocean, seaweed, mineral, iodine...thiings that are considered salty but never have i tasted actual salt

that would be disgusting
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Re: Do You Really Taste Salt?

Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:13 pm

Michael Jackson said he was once told that there was no salt in whisky. "I didn't say there was salt in it," he replied. "I said it tasted salty."

I don't taste salt in a lot of whiskies that others do--notably the peaty Islays--but I have indeed tasted it. The finish of Jura Superstition seemed to me like a salt shaker with loosened top spilling onto the back of my tongue. (yes, the back...maybe my tongue is weird.) A recent SMWS Auchroisk was also very salty.

I regard the idea that saltiness is taken in from the sea air to be nothing more than romantic twaddle. (Sorry, Willie.) If maturing whisky took in the atmosphere to that extent, then all of Gordon & MacPhail's stock, sitting in warehouses near an Elgin roundabout, would taste like auto exhaust.
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