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What did Scotch Whisky used to taste like?

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What did Scotch Whisky used to taste like?

Postby peergynt323 » Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:03 am

Many distilleries got their license in the 1800's. I don't know when bottling began, but how did whisky used to taste?

Was it malted over a pure peat fire? Was it really all sherry casks as Macallan claims? I'm guessing they were of various kinds and mostly second/third fill, correct? When did American oak come into the mix?

Anyway, I'm sure people have studied this subject. Please provide input.
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Postby Aidan » Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:52 am

I think they used to throw it into whatever cask was available. They tended to use whatever fuel was available.

And before that, they would have drank it before maturing it at all, flavouring it with herbs etc.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:58 am

Aidan wrote: And before that, they would have drank it before maturing it at all, flavouring it with herbs etc.

Interesting, wouldn't that make it remotely similar to gin or akevitt?
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Dec 12, 2006 9:32 am

Hi there,

if you can lay hands on Charles Mclean`s Whisky A Liquid History I recomend that book. He answers most of the questions.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Aidan » Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:01 am

Mr Fjeld wrote:
Aidan wrote: And before that, they would have drank it before maturing it at all, flavouring it with herbs etc.

Interesting, wouldn't that make it remotely similar to gin or akevitt?


Hi Christian

I believe that it was the 18th century before the discovered that maturation improved the qualities of the spirit. There was no law to say that it had to be in a barrel for three years etc, and they wouldn't have cared if what they were producing was called. It would really have been poitin or moonshine.
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Re: What did Scotch Whisky used to taste like?

Postby Bullie » Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:20 am

peergynt323 wrote:Many distilleries got their license in the 1800's. I don't know when bottling began, but how did whisky used to taste?

Was it malted over a pure peat fire? Was it really all sherry casks as Macallan claims? I'm guessing they were of various kinds and mostly second/third fill, correct? When did American oak come into the mix?

Anyway, I'm sure people have studied this subject. Please provide input.


Bottling begun around 1860. (In glass-bottles that is..) Most of the whisky sold before that, was delivered in casks to shops, hotels, pubs and even privates. Most people brought their own jugs and smaller casks to the shop and got it filled.

Maturing whisky was quite unknown. Among the first companys to mature whisky on a steady basis was Gordon & MacPhail, who started this in 1890's. Most whisky was consumed as what we today know as 'new make'. The 3 yo law was made up in 1914.

The industry started to use bourbonbarrels in the 1920's.
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Postby jimidrammer » Tue Dec 12, 2006 3:33 pm

To modify the question a bit then. How does well aged Single malt from the '30's and '40's differ from today? Do distilleries deliberately keep 50yo or more casks around to try to recreate or would the Angel's share be too great at that point or abv too low for comparison? I mean besides Macallan's 1860's reproduction, would there be interest in trying to bring back a lost profile? Just rambling here as I'm happy with what's available now, which was produced during my childhood. Glad I didn't know about it then, the anticipation of waiting 25 years to try it would have been unbearable. :wink:
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Re: What did Scotch Whisky used to taste like?

Postby corbuso » Tue Dec 12, 2006 3:47 pm

Bullie wrote:
peergynt323 wrote:Many distilleries got their license in the 1800's. I don't know when bottling began, but how did whisky used to taste?

Was it malted over a pure peat fire? Was it really all sherry casks as Macallan claims? I'm guessing they were of various kinds and mostly second/third fill, correct? When did American oak come into the mix?

Anyway, I'm sure people have studied this subject. Please provide input.



Maturing whisky was quite unknown. Among the first companys to mature whisky on a steady basis was Gordon & MacPhail, who started this in 1890's. Most whisky was consumed as what we today know as 'new make'. The 3 yo law was made up in 1914.

The industry started to use bourbonbarrels in the 1920's.


Just for precision: in 1914, by law, the whisky had to mature at least two years before being called whisky and one year later, in 1915, the minimal age was increased to 3. The Scotch industry could only have access to the american whisky cask in 1936, but started to import them in 1946, just after WW2. Until then, mainly sherry casks were used, but also of kind of other casks (wine casks, beer cask) were used. Casked were used only for transportation, not always for maturation. A lot of whisky was sold straight from the sill and tasted like new make spirit.
In the 1800s, peat was used for all steps of production. Later, with coal mining, distilleries closed to coal mines or railways switched from peat to coal for heating. Unpeated barley started to be produced only in the 1960s (anyone has some data on it?).

Rds,
Corbuso

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Re: What did Scotch Whisky used to taste like?

Postby Lawrence » Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:46 pm

peergynt323 wrote:Many distilleries got their license in the 1800's. I don't know when bottling began, but how did whisky used to taste?

Was it malted over a pure peat fire? Was it really all sherry casks as Macallan claims? I'm guessing they were of various kinds and mostly second/third fill, correct? When did American oak come into the mix?

Anyway, I'm sure people have studied this subject. Please provide input.


I think scotch whisky of the day tatsed quite different, more heavily peated, a 'bigger' spirit, direct firing of stills, hand malting, no bourbon casks etc , etc. There's an article on the subject in one of the recent WM's , it's an interesting read.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:53 pm

Prior to 1998 all whisky tasted terrible. I know this from first-hand experience.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Dec 12, 2006 5:01 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Prior to 1998 all whisky tasted terrible. I know this from first-hand experience.


Very droll Mr. T! :D
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Postby lexvo » Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:31 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Prior to 1998 all whisky tasted terrible. I know this from first-hand experience.


:lol:
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Postby Di Blasi » Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:59 pm

Yes, I've heard things changed after 1978 or so, to what we know and drink today, if of course it was distilled after that. I have a late 70's, early 80's bottling, distilled in the late 60's, of Bruichladdich 10y that I'm planning to open soon, and will get back to you how it compares to the current one that's on its way out. I have heard though it was peatier in those days.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:25 pm

Power's of Dublin was the first Distillery in the world to Bottle & Label their own product for sale and distribution in the mid to late 1800's. This was done to protect the name of Powers from ruthless merchants that either watered down the whiskey or sold other new make whiskey(sometimes lethal :shock: ) laced with prune Juice under the Powers name. All the big Irish distilleries suffered from these problems and bottling very quickly became the norm. So this shows that whiskey quality varied greatly in these days. And frequently people suffered greatly from drinking bad whiskey and even died. Powers sold solely Pure Potstill and it was only in Modern times it became a blend. Powers had always been the Irish Favourite but Jameson was always the International Favourite.

Power's also invented the mini, known as the baby powers it was mainly aimed at women of the time as they were not allowed into the pubs to drink so she could purchase a baby powers and could easily hide it away from nosey neighbours on her way home. The original baby powers was a double or 1/2 gill. To this day Powers sell a mini at 71ml (1/2 gill)
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Postby Ed » Sat Dec 16, 2006 1:39 pm

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:Power's of Dublin was the first Distillery in the world to Bottle & Label their own product for sale and distribution in the mid to late 1800's.


Can you nail that date down a little more precisely? The reason I ask is that Old Forester Bourbon was the first bourbon to be shipped and sold exclusively in bottles. That occured in 1870.

The laws regulating what could and couldn't be called whiskey, Rye or Bourbon, came much earlier in the States than elsewhere. Late 19th century I think, though I can't find a reference just now.

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Postby les taylor » Sat Dec 16, 2006 2:30 pm

Jimidrammer wrote:-

Just rambling here as I'm happy with what's available now, which was produced during my childhood. Glad I didn't know about it then, the anticipation of waiting 25 years to try it would have been unbearable.


Which is a great point. We probably only think about whats on the market for consumption now. Just consider whats being made now, will it be worth the wait how old will I be, and how good will it be.

:)
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