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Issue 86 - The whispering gallery

Whisky Magazine Issue 86
February 2010


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The whispering gallery

Martine Nouet finds the perfect match for the whispering whiskies requires a light hand when seasoning and careful attention in choosing delicate ingredients.

The concept requires some development. When I broach the topic with my colleague and partner in drams, Dave Broom, I can often catch a glance of incredulity if not irritation in his eye (it seems that females get it quicker.

Sorry gentlemen for this sexist comment!). Whispering whiskies?

Come on, I'll have a word about it with my horse as we say in French.

Mind you, does not Robert Redford whisper to his horse? Let's not lose the focus… What I name in my tasting-notes “a whispering whisky” is a whisky which expresses itself through almost transparent halftones, in subtle and delicate touches.

A watercolour as opposed to a thickly brushed oil painting.

Glencadam would feature the first while Ardbeg would embody the second.

The nose may be quite restrained to begin with but, over time, it reveals itself in sweet notes, floral or fruity. We are talking of juicy fruit, raw rather than stewed.

You will also often pick herbalist's shop notes: lemon balm, angelica, lime-tree. On the palate, a whispering whisky will have this ethereal character: light, fruity with honeyed, summer fruit and sometimes candied fruit notes - that in older versions. The texture will be silky and fluid. The lingering finish may dry out on soft spices. Obviously, to acquire such an aromatic profile, the whisky will have matured in ex bourbon casks or refill hogsheads, and not in sherry casks. A sauternes cask finish may have brought out more sweet character.

But when you think “whispering”...

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