Whisky Debate: Influences on flavour

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I have just had a short twitter conversation about some of the “burnt” or toasted notes present in whiskies. Popcorn, vanilla, coconut, sulphur, and drilled/burnt tooth came up.

The question is, in what whiskies and finishes (i.e. bourbon, sherry) do you associate these flavours? And what do you think causes these flavours to show themselves in the glass?

Please comment, join the debate!

One comment

  1. Ahhh, the luxury of more than 140 characters!

    Last night’s whisky which kicked this off was Cadenhead’s Balmenach-Glenlivet 22yo (51.4%, 2011 release). Adding several drops of water to it brought out a distinct, and very persistent, aroma of burnt tooth – the smell you get when the dentist is drilling. The aroma didn’t persist onto the palate, which was a little bit oily, brazil nut toffee, and dark flowers (the lavender end of the scale).

    I wouldn’t have linked the burnt tooth smell to things like popcorn until you said so Al, but now that it’s been pointed out I can see that the spectrum of popcorn/vanilla/coconut/burnt tooth are associated, for me, with whiskies which are: matured in bourbon casks; not peaty or smoky; and lighter in body without being sharp.

    (You’ll see I’ve omitted “sulphur” from my list of flavour notes. Sulphur is nearly always a sherry cask aroma for me)

    Some other whiskies with similar aromas: Glenlossie, Glen Ord, Glentauchers. And, interestingly, various new make spirits: Glenglassaugh Blushes, Abhain Dearg, and of course various unaged grappas.

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