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the taste of 'grain'

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the taste of 'grain'

Postby bloodyalways » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:14 pm

A couple of times i have heard it mentioned that you can 'taste the grain'in a certain blend(blackbottle for example).I understand the principle of grain and malt but what 'taste' am i looking for to distinguish the two? Is a grain harsher?does it have less warmth?

if it is a daft question then just appease me and talk down to me at will :oops:
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby borgom » Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:06 pm

Generally I find grain whisky imparts some sweetness and a cool impression on the palate. It also lightens the body of the whisky and I've found it can either soften and round a blend (e.g. Ballantine's) or provide a crisp/hard texture (e.g. BNJ) or even a combination of both.
Grain whisky can impart some flavour to blends but I think it's breadth of flavour is far narrower than malt whisky. Vanilla, sugar & sugar derivatives, honey and oak are what you would typically expect. Perhaps some nutiness and spiciness will be present if the grain whisky has been matured in sherry casks. It can also be a bit oily if corn is involved.
Grain whisky is not necessarily harsher than malt whisky.
It's not a daft question at all! I hope this helps you.
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby shulaw05 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:20 pm

i find grain whisky to have a nutty flavor. if you are looking to isolate the taste of 'grain', then you should try an exclusively grain whisky (if you can get your hands on one). i know compass box hedonism is a vatted grain whisky.
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby bloodyalways » Sun Mar 15, 2009 1:46 am

thanks,theyre great answers but make it sound like grain actually adds to the taste :thumbsup: so is it just snobishness that leads to' singlmaltitis'? :shock:
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby cathach » Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:53 am

Singlemaltitis?

Being a lover of Irish whiskey most of my favourite whiskies are blends or at any rate not single malt, as the Irish whiskey family also has ''Pure Pot Still''.
Black Bush, Bushmills 1608, Powers, and Jameson 12yo are amongst the finest whiskies in the world in my opinion and are very flavoursome. However I do find with certain blends e.g. Jameson, Paddy, J&B etc. that there can be a real harshness on the nose and the palate.

Older grain whiskey used in the blends above is great and to my mind offers toffee notes and vanilla and so on. However every time I go near one of the muckier blends I get knocked back by the harsh almost synthetic smell and taste of grain or bad malt.

Of course thats not to say that there aren't bottles of single malt that will do the same, the Macallan Fine Oak springs to mind. It was like drinking a shoe.
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby Willie JJ » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:24 am

Grain will impart sweet, sugary, toffee and vanilla notes to the blend, especially if it has some age about it and has been matured in decent casks. The trouble is that it has often been put in any old rubbish casks that are lying around just so it can get to 3 years old and can be chucked into a blend. I suspect that's why you get a lot of harshness in cheap young blends.
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby The Third Dram » Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:49 pm

Willie JJ wrote:The trouble is that it (grain whisky) has often been put in any old rubbish casks that are lying around just so it can get to 3 years old and can be chucked into a blend. I suspect that's why you get a lot of harshness in cheap young blends.

So true. As with any aged whisky, the quality of the wood into which the spirit is placed has a tremendous impact on what is finally racked off at the end of the maturation cycle.

Fairly 'neutral' barrels (i.e. well used ones that have not even been recharred) will impart relatively little in the way of additional flavour characteristics to the spirit they hold unless the ageing cycle is quite lengthy. On the other hand, good 1st-fill barrels will have a far greater influence on the contained whisky over the first three years of maturation.

It's also important to remember that such whisky can be produced from a variety of grains handled in different manners. Wheat and corn seem to be the most commonly used. But unmalted and malted barley also make their way into the grain whiskies utilized in many a blended Scotch.

For instance, Girvan's 'recipe' uses wheat and malt. North British goes for corn mixed with malted barley. And Cameronbridge uses, I believe, 'green' barley (unmalted).

So between differing sorts of grains utilized, variance of cask regimens and shorter or longer maturation periods, one can end up with whiskies exhibiting a very wide spectrum of flavour profiles.

Generally, though, sweetness and crispness do appear to be the most prevalent tastes one encounters from the contribution of the grain whiskies in a blended Scotch.
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:42 am

Great question explanations! Third Dram, you clearly work in the distillery industry.

The fact is i like that sweetness and crispness that you refer too. That's what blends provide that SMSs cant.
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby The Third Dram » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:55 am

Novice Scotch Fan wrote:...you clearly work in the distillery industry.

'Outside' the distillery industry, in fact, NSF.

I'm simply an inveterate reader, researcher and writer of matters related to whisk(e)y and wine.

And I DO like blended Scotches as well as (especially) vatted pure malt whiskies, which I think can be some of the most complex and finest spirits bar none.
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby bankerjoe » Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:48 pm

cathach wrote:Singlemaltitis?


I have heard of this condition, very strange. The Single Malt gets inflammed...

(end of saracastic remark) :lol:
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Re: the taste of 'grain'

Postby bloodyalways » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:43 pm

bankerjoe wrote:
cathach wrote:Singlemaltitis?


I have heard of this condition, very strange. The Single Malt gets inflammed...

(end of saracastic remark) :lol:


ha,i thought it was a perfectly good and valid use of a made-up word.Describing how some folk suffer from the blindingly painful inflammation of the single malt! 8)
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