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Consistency and standards

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Consistency and standards

Postby tuddy24 » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:13 am

Hi Everyone,

I hope everyone had a nice weekend, I live in a SW suburb of Chicago and without hesitation I can say this past weekend had the 2 most perfect days that I've seen in what feels like an eternity. I didn't drink one bit of scotch I just enjoyed the outdoors! Anyway this post is not about quitting drinking scotch but a general question of consistency and standards from years and batches from whisky manufacturers. Let's say we were to take a Johnny Walker Black for instance, is the "original" recipe still in use or has it been tweaked over the years? Does the blend change from year to year? Has anyone here been a drinker of this scotch or any for that matter that vary a lot over the years? I can see that aged expressions can change from year to year because that is the goal of the distiller to create different "expressions" if you will. There is no particular reason for these questions I was just curious. I work as a test engineer and ideally our job is to make sure we perform whatever test the same over time regardless of who the test engineer is. In reality this never happens because of many factors. I'm sure top distilleries use measurement and equipment of extremely high accuracy for the percents of certain components in blends. I just wonder how accurate one big gigantic blend does when bottled over 5,000 cases. Let me hear of your experiences and theories. Thanks.

-Pete
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby sku » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:18 pm

They change all the time. Whisky is an organic material, and as such, it abhors constants.

Surely, for blended brands, like JWB or for standard age expressions, such as Ardbeg 10, the goal of the blender/distiller, is often to maintain consistency through the years, but this is very difficult, as there are many variables in the distilling and ageing process.

For blenders, the formula probably varies even more as different distilleries offer up or refuse to offer up their wares for blending, as new distilleries open, old ones close and others are acquired by new owners.

For individual distillers, there is a variety of what is available at any given year, how many old stocks and young, as well as variance of flavor profiles that are going on in the various barrels they are blending to create the age statement expressions.

Everyone can think of their favorite whisky that used to be better or has improved over the years. Some are famous for inconsistency.
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby The Third Dram » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:05 pm

Also... Let's not forget the VERY significant role the nosers/tasters/blenders responsible for monitoring the aroma-flavour profiles of the various whiskies play within the industry.
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby Gov » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:20 am

I think most will find JWB is one of the more consistent blends from year to year.
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby ClubSmed » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:58 pm

Collector57 wrote:Part of this effect must also be "drift".
Each year or batch, a small difference is unnoticeable, but over a period of years the cumulative effect is significant.

Unless there is an old "reference" sample, the effect must take place. And even if there were a reference sample, who is to say it isn't changing in the bottle and thus altering the character of the current recipe?


Just think of it as taking a photocopy of a picture, that seems to be the same. If you then take a photocopy of the photocopy, you can start to see a little difference. If you carry on this process the difference can get more noticeable. Plus the fact that the original photo can change over time (fade or discolour) so it is not that easy to compare.

Hope this makes sense
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby tuddy24 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:53 pm

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your replies. Looking back at my original message, I meant to ask how your favorite whisky, and possibly your palate for that matter, has changed over the years. I work in a reliability lab and know very well the issues with variation in test setups, operators, environmental conditions, etc. I'll use myself as a good example. The first scotch I had was the Famous Grouse. I thought this was the end all/be all of scotch. I remember the finish going on forever and all these flavors. Well after I had a HP12 how things changed! The Grouse quickly became buttery with no finish and quite honestly boring on its own. I've found that this drink works well with a few ice cubes on a summer day. Very refreshing. I also remember tasting JWblack right after the HP12 and thinking it was great and better balanced than HP12. Then again when I was at the last drop of the JWblack it tasted too sweet. I attributed this to a change in the liquid over time after being opened. Well after my recent purchase of a fresh JWblack, I've found that it tasted the same as those last few drops from my previous bottle. I now find that certain SM's and blends need certain amounts of water/ice to balance them out. Anyway, sorry for the long post, happy drinking!

-Pete
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby The Third Dram » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:18 am

If I wished to express one overriding thought to you concerning personal appreciation of whiskies, it would be that one's perception of said spirits, like life in general, tends to run in cycles rather than in linear fashion.

Never take one's past assessments for granted. By doing so, you'll simply be robbing yourself of any number of surprises!

:wink:
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:15 am

Third Dram is correct when he says that the appreciation of whisky is non-linear in nature.

I, too, was a fan of Famous Grouse at one point, I still like it, but it now has its place. I used to add ice to everything. Now, much less. Initially, I needed the ice to take the burn and soften up the whisky. Now, I do that less and with some not at all.

Whisky appreciation is about trial and error, and gut instinct. Recently, I had Johnnie Walker Blue neat, there is no other way for me. It would be a waste to add ice and take away or diminish that lovely spirit.

Anyway, it's a journey, this whisky appreciation thing, enjoy it!
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby talisker10 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:02 pm

NoviceScotchFan, it's amazing how different paths can be. You started our drinking mainly blends, with a lot of ice. I started out with SMS, absolutely neat. Now, I am appreciating JWBlack, Chivas 12 with tons of ice...WT 101 with ice..and heaven forbid I even put one ice cube in Laph QC and liked it...but won't be doing that again.
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:10 am

talisker10 wrote:NoviceScotchFan, it's amazing how different paths can be. You started our drinking mainly blends, with a lot of ice. I started out with SMS, absolutely neat. Now, I am appreciating JWBlack, Chivas 12 with tons of ice...WT 101 with ice..and heaven forbid I even put one ice cube in Laph QC and liked it...but won't be doing that again.


I still like blends. JWBlack is what I am having tonight and loving it neat. I know this thread is not about JWB, but damn its good! In general though, I do seem to be gravitating towards some sms like Lagavulin.

Amazing how preferences change.

But ultimately, you are drinking it so however you like it is the right way!
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Re: Consistency and standards

Postby talisker10 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:41 am

I imagine since I started appreciating blends and ice while I have been in the dry windy afternoons, and cool mornings of New Mexico that the weather has something to do with it. Back in the heat and high humidity (no such thing as a cool morning) of southeast Texas next week..so it may change again.
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