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Wood Influence in Whisky

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Wood Influence in Whisky

Postby peergynt323 » Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:55 pm

I hear a lot about how whisky is too old when the wood dominates. Since I've never had a dram where the wood truly dominates, I'm curious to hear from forum members what it tastes like? Is it the wood flavors themselves or the oaky, buttery character that dominates? Which bottles have you had that are dominated by wood?
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Postby les taylor » Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:01 am

Hi Peergynt Macallan Fine Oak. Glenlivet Fine Oak 15 year old to name two. Agreed they are not perhaps old. You do however get the oak taste when trying these malts.

I'm sure that there are more.

:)
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Postby Drrich1965 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:26 am

A few older Speysides I have had were overcome by oak. By old I mean mid to late 30s. That oaky quality become dominant, and there is very little balance with malt, peat, sherry, ect. However, the old Speysides I have had that have held their own against the oak have been brilliant, the oak adds a wonderful spicy balance to the other elements
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Apr 25, 2007 3:02 am

I think I had a G&M Cask Bruichladdich, 1969 (I think it was 29yo--I'd have to find the label to verify) that was overly woody. I still really liked it, but it probably wasn't a very good example of its make.
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Postby kljostad » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:23 am

peergynt323, have you ever tasted whisky that comes straight from the stills?

I have, and drinking that, and then tasting something that has been matured for some time, really tells you that ALL whisky is dominated by wood. I have also had the luck to see what sherry casks can do for pure alcohol (not added any kind of taste and flavour), and that was an eyeopener for me. It was amazing how much taste came from the wood.

That said, I understand that your question is more releted to if there are any whiskies where the wood really owerpowers all other taste in the whisky. And when you say wood, I think you mean the cask itself. For the cask takes a lot of flavour from the liquid that used to be in it.

The few I have tasted that could fit that description, is Macallan 18 and 25 Fine Oak, Bowmore 16 (1990) and Aberlour A'bunadh. I won't say that the cask totally owerpowers the other tastes, but it is REALLY dominating.
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Postby bamber » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:54 am

I've noticed this much more in bourbon that Scotch. In fact, practically any aged bourbon has massive wood influence.

Particularly woody:
WL Weller 19yo was very woody and grippy, but delicious at the same time. It's successor - the William Larue Weller is also very woody and grippy - the tannins stick to your tongue like you're drinking black tea. Again lovely whiskey though. Buffalo Trace, despite being about 8-10yo also seems woody to me.
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Postby Matt2 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:21 pm

Recently I've been working my way through various 30 year old + whiskies and noticed too much wood.

I find the woodiness to be dark oaky with slightly bitter tannins. You get a deeper, richer flavour throughout which is really nice, but personally I am not keen on the woody / tannins.

I'm starting to think the 'best' whiskies are aged 21-26 years old, anymore than that and the wood does start to take over.

Of course some people really like aged, oaky whiskies, while others like fresher younger ones. Just glad my tastes aren't as expensive as I thought.
:)
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Postby kljostad » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:20 pm

Matt Page wrote:Recently I've been working my way through various 30 year old + whiskies and noticed too much wood.

I find the woodiness to be dark oaky with slightly bitter tannins. You get a deeper, richer flavour throughout which is really nice, but personally I am not keen on the woody / tannins.

I'm starting to think the 'best' whiskies are aged 21-26 years old, anymore than that and the wood does start to take over.

Of course some people really like aged, oaky whiskies, while others like fresher younger ones. Just glad my tastes aren't as expensive as I thought.
:)


I totally agree with you, altough I tend to prefer my whiskies even younger. I think ageing takes away some of the caracteristics that I like (peat for instance), and a lot of the expressions I have tasted, get more flat and boring with time.

An example is the Macallan Fine Oak series. I think the 15 and 18 are equally good (altough they don't taste the same) but the Macallan 25 and 30 are flat and taste a bit off.
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Postby peergynt323 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:15 pm

I had the opportunity to try Kilchoman new make. It was interesting for me because I didn't think I was only getting 20% of the flavor I normally get. I'm guessing that 80% from the wood is an upper limit. But it did taste undesirably harsh.

I was just curious to see what the forum members think. I've noticed when reading tasting notes of very old whiskies there is always the qualifier, "but the wood does not dominate." It's as if they have to put that in there or no one will respect their review. Gotta confirm the wood doesn't dominate on an old whisky.

It reminds me of reading wine reviews where, "but the alcohol doesn't dominate and it's not a fruit-bomb." I guess the difference is that with a lot of wine reviews, that statement is an outright lie, but then they market to a more naive audience.

Anyway, just getting the wheels in my head turning. The woodsiest whiskies I've had were Highland Parks. I get that cedar chip campfire kind of thing but it's not at all unpleasant. I guess I'll have to wait until I truly stumble upon a bad batch of very old whisky.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:49 pm

I think we should make it plain what we mean by wood influence in any given circumstance. When an old whisky is said to overly woody, I think it's the wood itself that is being referred to, rather than the previous contents of the cask (someone mentioned a'bunadh earlier, and I think maybe the issue is being confused).

New makes I've had have been pleasantly fruity (if not dominated by peat), and I would think that some wouldn't really need all that much aging at all to be drinkable. I'd like more experience tasting malts at verious ages, from obviously-not-ready to obviously-over-the-hill. That would be a really interesting subject for a masterclass or an in-depth distillery tour.
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Postby Matt2 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:12 pm

:coffee: Here are some notes I made about this a while back....

Woody - any wood, timber, pine, beech, ash etc... quite often a fresh sweet young woody note. Appealing and nice

Oaky - Darker and richer wood notes, distinctive oak (go and hug an old english oak), more bitter than the sweeter woody notes. Interesting and adds depth, but don't want too much

Tannins - bitter with a harsh mouth feel, similar to wine tannins - not so much a taste but a feeling. Not keen on this at all.

Wood related tasting notes....

Glenfiddich 33 - Big fruity, chocolatly, light spice - wood and oak, but adds depth and complexity to the other flavours

Highland Park 30 - Rich deep sherry and wood, maybe a bit too much oak , light tannins, but very drinkable

Whyte and Mackay 30 - Perfect, all the depth and character but very little oaky stuff - just a hint of clean pure oak in the finish

Glen Moray 42 - Like chewing an old bitter oak tree, shame as the younger Glen Morays really have something to offer. But late at night with a cigar it works quite well. Heavy oak and tannins hiding the rich fruit and floral notes.

Macallan 30 (not FO) - Chewing an oak tree while drinking your mums sherry. Too much sherry and oak all in one go, fruity, and sweet sherry notes conflict with heavy bitter tannins.

Glenury Royal 50 - Again too much oak and tannin, but the length of finish and depth makes up for the oak which seems to comes across very early and fades. Only really enjoy it 5 minutes after you've drunk it. Quite amazing when it has been in a bit of wood for half a century.

However a friend who likes those oaky notes thinks I'm :insane:
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