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Rubber Tastes.

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Rubber Tastes.

Postby dram_time » Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:38 am

Not sure if this question would have been better posted in the ‘Tasting’ section or not?... any how,

A few weeks back I really enjoyed some Port Ellen OMC 19 year old, and found it to taste very much of rubber, amongst other things. Looking at Charles MacLean’s flavour wheel, he has the rubbery flavours grouped under the heading of ‘Sulphury’.

I read elsewhere that these Sulphur flavours are ‘Undesirable’ to the whisky manufactures, and in some cases are from poor still operation, and not rinsing casks before use. Would this be true ??

Would it be correct to assume that the Port Ellen (and any other malt that has a ‘rubbery’ flavour) was poorly made, or suffered in its creation ?? And that distillers try not to have these flavours in their whisky ??

I quite liked it once I could put a name to the taste.

Dt.
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Postby Lawrence » Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:01 pm

Would it be correct to assume that the Port Ellen (and any other malt that has a ‘rubbery’ flavour) was poorly made, or suffered in its creation ?? And that distillers try not to have these flavours in their whisky ??


I would say that rubber/sulphur is not a desriable flavour characteristic and that something went wrong somewhere along the way.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:59 am

Hang on, don't dive in too deep yet. :)

Rubber & sulphur are characteristics that can be imparted by sherry wood.

Whether they are positive or negative features in a whisky depends on (a) how concentrated or pronounced they are, and (b) whether you find their presence harsh & out of balance or whether they gel nicely with the other flavours on offer.

Some of the best ex-sherry casks I've ever tasted had a touch of sulphur and rubber, but these two flavours/aromas added enormously to the richness and complexity of the whisky, and I definitely thought they were positive features. (e.g. SMWS Longmorn 36yo; private bottling of Glenfarclas 30yo; Macallan 1954; Macallan ESC IV; SMWS Glenfarclas 38yo).

You'll notice that each of the whiskies I just listed are quite old, and so yes, the chance of finding sulphur & rubber increases with older whiskies, but this obviously because the spirit is spending more time in the oak from which these characteristics originate.

Having said all that, there is the well known cask of OMC Talisker (or Tactical) that was too sulphery in a very unpleasant sense.

My only point is to simply counter Lawrence somewhat and point out that not all sulphur or rubber is bad. :)

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Postby Lawrence » Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:54 am

When ever I encounter 'rubber' tatse in whisky it's usually 'burnt rubber' and that, IMHO, is never a positive thing in whisky.

As Admiral said sometimes sulphur does occur during the manufacturing process (I'm including maturation in the term manufacturing because it's not whisky until it's been matured for 3 years, right?) and some people describe it as 'meaty' which is not a bad taste.

It's good to have you take part in these discussions again Admiral.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 04, 2006 6:28 am

A friend of mine, a whisky novice, thought Talisker 10 tasted of burnt rubber. I could see what he meant, but it wasn't the term I would have thought of. Individual impressions can vary. (I understand that even experts can disagree.)

A Connoisseur's Choice Littlemill tasted to me as though it had been stored in an auto tire for the length of good hot summer. Worst malt I ever had. I don't think there was any sherry in it.

Old Fettercairn tastes to me of bicycle tire, or maybe the patch used to repair one. Very unpleasant.

Rubbery tastes may be distinct from sulfurous ones. I know I had something sulfur-tasting once, but forget what it was. I bet Frodo remembers!
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:10 am

I've encountered rubbery taste in whiskies that haven't been near sherry casks and I personaly don't think sulphur and rubber are very similar?
There's a pretty strong "bicycle inner-tube" smell from especially Ardbeg Ten and also some in Caol Ila 12 and as Mr T. suggests in the Talisker 10.
I rather like it.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:27 am

Mr Fjeld wrote:There's a pretty strong "bicycle inner-tube" smell from especially Ardbeg Ten and also some in Caol Ila 12 and as Mr T. suggests in the Talisker 10.
I rather like it.


Yikes! I hope not. I only found bicycle inner tube in Fettercairn, and thought it was awful. I've never found it in those you mention, Christian, and hope I never do.

Just goes to show how different individual perceptions can be!
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:58 am

Yep, the very first thing I noticed 3 years ago when I opened my first Ardbeg Ten wast the rubbery smell (not taste) of innertubes and old raincoat. I was an active mountainbiker for years and although the innertube smell reminds me of puncture - which is isn't so funny, the smell actually appeals to me in a whisky :D
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:37 am

Mr Fjeld wrote:
.....I personaly don't think sulphur and rubber are very similar? .......




Ditto.......

I have had a few with sulphur and depending on the levels and also the whisky it's self I have found that I liked quite a few but did not care for others...

I would not equate the taste sulphur and/or rubber in a cask as meaning it's bad. Some people feel too much sherry presence ruins a whisky. However if you don't like that in a whisky then it is just not for you.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:10 pm

My comments about Ledaig Sherry are documented elsewhere but I do think the main problem with it is that it tasted very much of burnt rubber. I had a similar experience with a Signatory bottling of Ledaig but it wasn't too bad and was actually a reasonable dram. I wonder if they have a bad batch of casks? Is it possible that the oak is "off"?
Another bottle I'm not too sure about is a Berry Bros. Bowmore. Many raved about it at WL05 but I can't get past the rubbery sulphery notes compounded by the characteristic smokiness of the distillery.
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Postby Wave » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:52 pm

The Caol Ila 12 among other tastes has a bit of a rubbery taste. I live for it! :D


Cheers!
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Postby dram_time » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:59 pm

Crieftan wrote:I wonder if they have a bad batch of casks? Is it possible that the oak is "off"?


I read that casks were, and maybe still are??, sterilised by burning sulphur ??? and that if not rinsed out properly, would impart this taste to the whisky.

I don't understand at what point of cask use they would do this? i would think after the cask had been made would be when it is done, before any liquid goes in. That would mean there must be some nasty tasting Sherry out there...

To be honest, i thought the rubber taste would have come from the peat, but it seems i'm wrong. I like the taste, and in the Port Ellen it was almost a sweet tasting rubber, if there is such a thing. I find it very strange that a taste like that can be re-created within a whisky, is the taste of rubber really there, or am i being fooled by another taste.

Dt.
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