Our Systematic Approach to Reviewing Whisky

Our goal, is to review whisky in a systematic approach that is easy for the layman to understand; and in turn apply the method. Here is our first attempt so please bear with us while we fine-tune the process.

Before any tasting, we will first classify the whisky in the following format:

  1. Distillery – Name of the distillery the whisky is from
  2. Year (Age) – Number of years the whisky is matured in the cask and / or the year the whisky is bottled if available
  3. Type of Whisky - Single Malt / Blend or others (grain / corn / bourbon)
  4. Cask – The wood that the cask is made of to mature the whisky
  5. Country of Origin – The country where the whisky is made
  6. Region – The specific region where the whisky is made if applicable
  7. Alcohol Content – Percentage alcohol of the whisky
  8. Colour – Colour tone of the whisky

The next step will be to nose and taste the whisky. I will write up more on how to conduct the tasting later on. We will focus on our method to review the whisky at this stage.

After savouring the good (or bad) stuff, we bring our attention to the flavours and aromas that we have just experienced. What does it remind you of? “The soft, gentle sea breeze caressing your face overpowering your senses with the salty tang of the ocean”. Unfortunately, I am not so *ahem* poetic, like most of the great whisky writers out there. Instead, I would like to break it down into the most common flavours associated with whisky (courtesy of the whisky wheel from WhiskyMag.com) to give a systematic and objective understanding of the drink at hand.

The most common flavours of whisky are:

  1. Wine – sherry, port, chardonnay, chocolatey, nutty flavours
  2. Cereal – malty, corn, yeast, porridge flavours
  3. Fruit - apples, pears, oranges, peaches, apricots etc.
  4. Floral – perfumey, rose, leafy, hay, heather flowers
  5. Peat – bog, seaweed, seafood, smokey
  6. Feinty – cheese, tobacco, honey, digestive biscuits
  7. Sulphur – fresh laundry, spent matches, burnt rubber
  8. Wood – nutmeg, vanilla, coffee grounds, musty

This is rated on a 3 point scale:

0 = No trace
1 = Hint of flavour
2 = Pronounced flavour
3 = Very strong flavour

After developing the flavour profile, we will score the whisky according to:

  1. Nose – Take a whiff of whisky and decide if you like the smell
  2. Taste – Take a sip of whisky and decide if you would prefer to mix it with coke.
  3. Finish – Does the whisky go down smooth and long or set your throat and intestines on fire.
  4. Balance – Score to define if the overall flavour of the whisky is balanced
We will also highlight other notes to complete the review by looking at other aspects such as packaging and value for money.

Each individual category will be rated on a scale of 0-5, with 0 being the worst and 5 being the best for a total maximum score of 20.

Let the fun begin!

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