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Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?

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Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?

Postby mg428 » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:11 pm

First post from a newbie. Apologies in advance if anything sounds silly.

I have recently embarked upon my whiskey journey and would like to sample Scottish whiskies from different regions to understand the main differences.

1) To start with, I am considering sampling whiskies that are most disparate in terms of their tasting notes profile. My logic is, if I favour, say, Islay more, then I may try some whiskeys from a region with a profile closer to Islay (in this case Island) and find out which region I favour more. Is my logic plausible?

2) In this regard I am considering tasting some Speyside and Islay whiskies which looks like very (perhaps most?) disparate. What do you think?

3) When comparing these whiskies, should I sample Speyside whiskies and Islay whiskies in a different time? If not, what sequence should I follow?

4) I will most likely be tasting lowest-end whiskies from whatever brand I sample in terms of their age statement. Would such whiskies give a decent impression of their respective regions despite their relatively low quality? In this context, let's assume I would favour Speyside more than Islay upon my tasting, would you say if I tried high-quality whiskies from the same regions, I'd like Islay more?
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Re: Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?

Postby Ganga » Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:01 pm

I have sampled/tasted many whiskies in contrast to each other. Some more similar than others. Even from the same distillery (let alone region), the whiskies can be very different in styles. Benriach makes peated and unpeate; sherry, bourbon and finished; and combinations of the first two. Typically, it is recommended that you start with the lighter whiskies first as the heavier sherry and peat will affect your ability to taste the lighter whiskies like Braeval and Dalwhinnie.

As for your likes, it will depend on you and that is the most valid place. After all, it is your money you are investing. I tend to like a wide variety of things - all regions of Scotland, Japanese, American, single malt, single grain, blended, etc. That isn't for everyone.
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Re: Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?

Postby nitelite535 » Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:36 am

Ganga put it very well.

Doing a tasting of various whisky's from the different regions is a good idea. Some things to remember when doing tastings:

- Start with the lighter whisky's first. Drinking the heavier whisky's (more heat, cask strength, overbearing personality) will kill your buds pretty fast so that it becomes harder to taste the subtle flavors of the lighter whisky's (or other heavy whisky's).

- Begin with the Speyside region first. They are the most "generic" and IMHO the most appealing if you are one trying to identify which regions you prefer. Speyside whisky's have the most mellow personality (though some are more peculiar). Then go with the Highlands, lowlands, and Islands/slays. I recommend Islays last because (to me) they have the heaviest peat and smoke/iodine personality, and make it very difficult to fully appreciate the other whisky's that follow.

My recommended order is:

- Balvenie 12 Doublewood
- Glenrothes Select Reserve
- Glenmorangie Quinta Ruben/Lasanta
- Dalmore 12/15
- Auchentoshan
- Glenkinchie
- Highland Park 12
- Talisker
- Bowmore
- Lagavulin

- Woodford Reserve
- Makers Mark

- Hibiki

As for how to drink it, many people say there is a "proper" way to taste whisky (nosing it, tasting it, then adding very little water for the second taste, etc).

You can read about what to expect from the various regions but the "degree" of each trait in the whisky is determined by your taste buds. I can only give you an idea of what (I feel based on my tastings) are the expected flavors of the regions:

- Speyside: light/mild sweet nose, occasional hint of peat with chocolate/sugar of some sort , low to moderate heat, and a mild to smooth finish (often pleasantly lingering after taste).

- Highlands/Lowlands: ranges greatly. To me, on average, they start with a mild nose (heavy on the mix of flavors), burst of peat which dissipates slowly, sweet, floral, oaky, moderate finish with occasional lingering heat.

- Islands: This region I find varies in personality the most. Some from this region can act like a speyside and some I find are more like the highlands/lowlands/speyside.

- Islays: Strong iodine, peaty, smoky nose, peaty bitter, with underlying sweetness, lots of heat on the finish, bitter lingering after taste.

Once you develop a better understanding of what you can expect from the regions (based on tasting various whisky tastings), you'll have a better idea of what you want and during which occasion. Me, I like the mellow tastes which is why I lean toward the Speysides and the occasional Highlands.

Some whisky's will come in specific batch numbers which I believe means that each batch in question may have a different personality than the previous/unknown what to expect.

Having a very expensive "high end" whisky does not necessarily represent the region. Even having a really expensive whisky may give you with a bad impression.

Go to tastings once in a while. Many of the times, they are free and you learn about some new ones. I went to a whisky tasting for Balcones whom I've never heard of. I had their "unlabeled" blend which to my surprise tasted like a Speyside.
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Re: Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?

Postby bredman » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:38 am

mg428 wrote:I have recently embarked upon my whiskey journey and would like to sample Scottish whiskies from different regions to understand the main differences.

1) To start with, I am considering sampling whiskies that are most disparate in terms of their tasting notes profile. My logic is, if I favour, say, Islay more, then I may try some whiskeys from a region with a profile closer to Islay (in this case Island) and find out which region I favour more. Is my logic plausible?


I wouldn't focus on regional differences, it's just marketing, and you will soon realise this. For example the Island region - what a waste of time.

The simple answer to your query is to just start drinking whisky from different distilleries, and to carry on doing this as it's a never ending journey. With so many bottlings available from each distillery you will find many don't even display that distillery's particular character. Find me an expert that can correctly guess the distillery blind.

And that's the fun of it... you never stop learning. 8)

100+ distilleries -- you'd better get on with it.

If you do hold a 'tasting' it's best to limit it to 4-7 different whiskies, and finish with anything heavily peated, or heavily sherried. Perhaps hold another tasting at a later date with the same whiskies but in a different order as what is consumed first will affect what is consumed after.
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Re: Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?

Postby jezca » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:01 am

I'm giving this a go...even though I'm new too and am also embarking on the whiskey journey so sorry, in advance, if I sound like an idiot but this could help...? Maybe?

The Macleods range have a range from lowland, speyside, highland, islay and island...they are at the lower end of the price range...well in New Zealand they are, I am told that they are relatively good whiskeys although they are young, maybe just to give an indication of the different regions..?

Personally, I think, try what you can when you can, taste the different whiskeys, identify what characteristics appeal to you the most and then wouldn't that give you an idea of what kind of whiskeys you prefer. Despite what region...?

Well, they work for me (macleods) and when I get the chance...because it's expensive...I try the top shelf :D Cant wait to go to a whiskey tasting...one day...! Jeez I sound like SUCH an ameture :oops:
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Re: Can I taste different regions whiskeys together?

Postby Willie JJ » Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:22 pm

jezca wrote:Personally, I think, try what you can when you can, taste the different whiskeys, identify what characteristics appeal to you the most and then wouldn't that give you an idea of what kind of whiskeys you prefer. Despite what region...?

Yes but it still won't help you to know which distillery to buy. Bredman is correct, the regions are just a marketing device. There are no consistent regional characteristics. Just buy bottles and have fun with them. Knowledge follows experience.
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