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Issue 135 - SPEYSIDE: The Speyside Malts “à table”

Whisky Magazine Issue 135
April 2016


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SPEYSIDE: The Speyside Malts “à table”

A new cookbook from Martine Nouet takes an original slant on whisky as an accompaniment to good food

Defining a whisky profile according to the region of production is becoming more and more problematic as distilleries now create different styles through maturation experiments, using peat when they only produced unpeated malts, trying specific varieties of barley or producing organic batches. The comforting classification of single malts according to regions is now somewhat blurred by all that. However, it makes sense to pick out certain common character traits in ‘Speysiders.' If I was asked to sum up Speyside malts' aromatic profile in just one word – it is attempting the impossible! – I would say fruit, as most single malts have an estery character which the maturation can enhance or tone down. That fruity distinctive feature is often paired with a honeyed note. We tend to differentiate between ‘light' and ‘heavy' styles.

A light style would describe an estery malt, predominantly matured in ex-Bourbon casks, like Glenfiddich or The Glenlivet. A heavy style would describe single malts with an oily and meaty character like Mortlach. These malts are often matured in sherry casks.

This is an important point to consider when it comes to food and whisky matching as the whisky always guides the choice of dishes.

Fish and shellfish will match with the light Speysiders. Ex-Bourbon casks imparts fresh minty or aniseed aromas wrapped in vanilla sweetness. Smoked salmon finds a good match with the sweet malty core of these whiskies (provided the single malt is not ...

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