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Issue 95 - Personality Traits

Whisky Magazine Issue 95
April 2011


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Personality Traits

Dave Broom looks at how to get under the skin of a distillery

?The phrase Extreme Tasting isn't quite what one associates with the relatively calm and benign world of spirits. In fact, maybe it is easier to say what extreme tasting isn't. It's not concerned with tasting in dangerous situations for starters. Neither is it simply about being someone who has tasted huge volumes. The fact that you have tasted 1,000 or 10,000 whiskies is no great import. Extreme tasting is concerned with a deep investigation into the inner life of spirits, finding a way in which to try and begin to understand the intricate workings of a brand, a distillery, a blend, a style. That might mean tasting 100 samples, it might mean tasting 10. It's clear that you can only begin to understand spirits through flavour, but identifying aromas is easy. My nine-year-old daughter can tell me that a whisky smells of vanilla and peaches and spice. What is important in any tasting, extreme or not, is knowing what these aromas and tastes mean and why they are there. This approach takes in production, history, cask influence, climate and all the other elements which make up that whisky's personality. Maybe it should be called deep tasting not extreme.

It's not about enjoyment either. It is analytical, intellectual, a world which is alien to whisky lovers but the norm for the professional extreme tasters such as distillers and blenders whose daily job it is to be think about whisky in a deep way. Their tasting abilities lie behind the whiskies which we all enjoy. This series ...

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