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question on Single malt wiskey

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question on Single malt wiskey

Postby Jonwin » Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:42 pm

Hi, I was wondering first about the smoky single malts (such as Laphroaig), what is it about there making process that makes them have a smoky taste?
And also, is the amount of years the whiskey has been barreled up (12,18 and so on) really an indication to its rate and taste?

And another thing, any recommendations on good books on single malt Whiskey from Scotland would be great!

Thanks for the help :)

Jonathan
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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby The Third Dram » Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:19 pm

What is it about their making process that makes them have a smoky taste?
Predominantly the incorporation of peat (and/or coal at some sites) during the malting process (when the partially germinated barley is being dried by warm air circulation). Another (albeit it much less significant) factor could be the supply/reduction water if it is sourced from streams that course through peatlands.

Is the amount of years the whiskey has been barreled up (12,18 and so on) really an indication to its rate and taste?
Greater age can certainly affect the taste, imbuing the whisky with more pronounced oak nuances (though this factor is highly dependent on the type of casks utilized - are they 1st-fill, 2nd-fill, etc?). That said, there is (despite the fact that producers will generally be quite careful in selecting casks of whisky for their older, more expensive bottlings) not necessarily any correlation between greater age and better quality. Whiskies of any age can be poor or stupendous. You're the final judge of that, of course!

Any recommendations on good books on single malt whisky from Scotland would be great!
There are numerous well-written, informative books out there. Lately, I've been reading the following a fair amount:

Charles MacLean: Whiskypedia (good distillery information)
Charles MacLean: World Whiskey (covers many whiskies from around the globe)
Ian Buxton: 101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die (an entertaining read)
Dave Broom: The World Atlas Of Whisky (quite comprehensive within its scope, and with valuable tasting notes on new-makes - i.e. whiskies straight from the stills)

You'd also likely want to have this one on hand, as it's a classic:

Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion (6th Edition) provides numerous tasting notes that will, in many cases, make your mouth water.
:wink:
Last edited by The Third Dram on Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby The Third Dram » Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:21 pm

Happy tasting, by the way! :thumbsup:
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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby Ganga » Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:57 pm

The Third Dram wrote:Is the amount of years the whiskey has been barreled up (12,18 and so on) really an indication to its rate and taste?
Greater age can certainly affect the taste, imbuing the whisky with more pronounced oak nuances (though this factor is highly dependent on the type of casks utilized - are they 1st-fill, 2nd-fill, etc?). That said, there is (despite the fact that producers will generally be quite careful in selecting casks of whisky for their older, more expensive bottlings) not necessarily any correlation between greater age and better quality. Whiskies of any age can be poor or stupendous. You're the final judge of that, of course!


What he said. :thumbsup:

For me, my preference can vary based on the distillery. Two examples. I really prefer Caol Ila under the age of 12. There are a few exceptions of course but this is my rule of thumb. Second example is Glen Grant. For me, Glen Grant needs to spend some time in the cask. I generally prefer Glen Grant that has been in the cask for 20 years or more.

I have also found that how I feel about the quality of the whisky can greatly be affected by the strength of the whisky. I really believe that Islay whiskies, especially younger ones, gain from being at cask strength.
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Thanks!

Postby Jonwin » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:43 am

Thanks a lot!

I couldn't have asked for a better response to my questions.

I really appreciate it :)
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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby tomkenmure » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:29 pm

Hi

I wonder if you can help i have a bottle Ladyburn 1974 20cl is in a presentation box limited edition of 500 bottles cant find a price anywhere.

ThanksTom :thumbsup:
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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby davequa » Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:44 am

Couple of additions to the above posts which are pretty comprehensive.
Whisky age and quality is largely a matter of individual taste. I much prefer 10yo Laphroaig to 15 or 18yo but I prefer the 16yo Isle of Jura to the 10yo. No accounting for taste but the great thing is that you've got to taste them all before making up your mind:-)

On the subject of books try the Malt Whisky Yearbook. The 2012 version has just been published and it really is excellent
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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby bredman » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:01 am

You could add these titles as all good and useful.

MacLean's Miscellany of whisky by Charles MacLean.
Malt Whisky Yearbook edited by Ingvar Ronde. The 2012 version is now out.
Peat Smoke And Spirit by Andrew Jefford. This is just about the Islay whiskies and goes quite in depth.
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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby newwhiskyworld » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:06 am

I agree with much of the above in terms of age vs quality. It is really the new make spirit that has the basic quality or otherwise. From there on distilleries are simply adding to/playing with that quality. Different styles of Malt will lend themselves to differing lengths of time in the wood - for me Laphroig is best drunk young. Once you age it past 15 years the character of that Laphroig new make begins to get lost in the wood. A lighter, fresher Speyside however may well benefit form a good period in oak, especially a flavoursome sherry butt to add some depth.

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Re: question on Single malt wiskey

Postby ClubSmed » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:23 pm

I would also add that a peaty cask could come from the barrel. Penderyn, for example, did not add peat to their whisky but did use barrels that previously held peated whisky which resulted in their slightly peated single malt.
The type of peat used will also make a difference. The Peat on Islay is different to the Peat on Orkney for example because of what it is made of. Peat consists of partly decomposed vegetable matter so it depends what vegetable matter was around when the peat was 1st created. Islay Peat has large traces of trees where the Orkney Peat does not, this is why you get more of an iodine effect with Islay malts than you do from Orkney malts.
I would also add to the question of age, that age has an effect on the peat taste in a whisky. over the years the peatyness of a whisky will have mellowed and become more integrated into the malt. So if you want a peatmonster of a whisky the lower ages is where you would want to look.
As far as books are concerned I would recommend Appreciating Whisky by Pip Hills but is is becoming rather rare and as such is increasing in price, currently around £60 I think if you can find it.
As mentioned above, the Malt Whisky Yearbooks are a very good sourse of interesting information and you can get the back catalogue of them online too
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