Any Scotch Whiskey fan has heard just about every misconception there is about this wonderful liquid. Here are five of the most common, and what to think or say the next time you encounter them.
1. All whisky tastes the same
To the novice, this may ring true. The first experience with whisky by many people I talk to goes along the lines of breaking into dad’s liquor cabinet as a teen and downing half a bottle of some cheap blended whisky. The body’s automatic reaction of utter rejection would be enough to put off even the hardiest of souls.
There are several factors that influence the flavor profile of whisky, including geography, grain, water source, production methods and cask management or maturation. The only way to truly get a sense of the complexity and essence of whisky is to attend tastings and get an education on the subtleties and diversity of this remarkable spirit. It is amazing the difference a little education and appreciation makes to the experience of sipping a fine whisky.
2. If you don’t pick up “old worn saddle leather and the aroma of chewed tobacco spit with a hint of dark chocolate,” you are doing it wrong
On the other end of the spectrum is the perception that whisky is excessively complicated. But taste is subjective. Not everyone tastes or likes food the same, so why would whisky be any different? Don’t be intimidated by the so-called experts’ outrageous tasting notes, which can be so inventive that they just don’t resonate with the average person. For the most part, they’re just having fun, and their creativity was probably fueled by their state of inebriation at the time.
Several generic tastes and aromas are present in whisky depending on several factors, such as cask type used during maturation, regional influence and production process. Fruity, spicy, smoky, peaty and floral are some of the more common terms you will hear. You can use these as a guideline to help you create your own personal vocabulary and taste/aroma library. Perhaps you recognize a particular fruit in the aroma or a prominent spice resonates more with you on the palate. Ultimately, just smell, sip, savor and enjoy your own interpretations.