As it is, take a quick poll of which malts are world-renowned for their consistency in excellence (and awards), and you'll probably get names like Macallan, Glenlivet, ANY Islay malt, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, etc, etc.
Names like Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie, or any lowlander for that matter simply don't get mentioned in those circles.
It therefore seeems a weak argument to suggest that triple distillation produces a better whisky. Besides, if it did, don't you think more distilleries would do it???
And why would you three times distill ? Well as Martin Martin told us - to make life-challenging whisky.
It is important to capture many of the "good" components such as acetyl aldehydes, esters and others, while removing heavier fusel oils and proteins, which contribute to body and mouthfeel, but not to aromatics or fore-palate. As mentioned, Armagnac seems to do this quite well. While containing as much as 2500 ppm congeners, there is a good balance between purity and flavor as well as plenty of delicate aromatics and just enough body/mouthfeel creating proteins and fusel oils.
In Scotch, one could easily argue that some of the older Auchentoshans are exemplary, while many double-distilled spirits are mediocre. So, in essence, the skill of the distiller dictates the "goodness" of the malt. This question is akin to "Which is better, Roquefort or Chevre-lait?" Both triple distilled and double distilled malts have superb examples within their categories and the situation dictates which is better. I find during the warm summer months, a nice, light Auchentoshan suits my palate much better than some heavier highlands. Though, during the cooler fall months, its lightness doesn't provide the substance I am looking for.
Redbreast is the finest whiskey in the world and is triple-distilled. Other great triple-distilled whiskies are Powers, Green Spot, and Jameson 12 yr old.
These have won many awards.
One could eliminate, or reduce, the unmalted grains portion of the mashbill, and thereby likely dispense with the need for a third distillation, but then the product would not be traditional Irish pot still whiskey! The versions of Jameson that are all-pot still (I believe the 15 year old is) achieve the best balance of barley and pot still characters, in my view, this is certainly one of the world's great distilled drinks. The other Jameson's are fine regional whiskeys of great character but I find it hard to come to terms with the pot still element except in the regular Jameson blend which is a very good whiskey, complex yet not overly assertive. Ditto for Power's which is very fine indeed. And I return to Green Spot as my personal preference in pot still whiskey. At its best it has a complex fruity character that is both appetizing and unique.
I can think fno other distillery in the world which is as complex as the plant in [Midleton] Co. Cork. When the new distillery ws deisgned and built it had to produce a range of whiskeys which, when blended, would form similar characters to the original whiskeys produced at Jameson's in Bow Street, Power's of John's Lane, the original Midleton and, to some extent, Tullamore.
...It's range of whiskey's cover a wider spectrum than any other distillery I know in the world
For pot still whiskey, the grist will have been made up from anything within the parameters of 60 percent unmalted barley and 40 percent malt, or from a straight 50/50 split. From this range of mixes three types of whiskey can be produced: light pot still; meidum/modified; or heavy. After all three distillations, the stillman can produce a heavy whiskey by capturing a greater portionof hte latter part of the distillate run which contains some of the heavier oils. The lighter the spirit he requires, the more central portion of the run will be selected each time. The result is a lighter spirit, and one which is higher in abv.
As well as the use of the three pot stills, some of the whiskey is distilled throught two column stills designed for the making of grain whiskey. At Midleton they are quite fascinating because they are linked to the pot still so that some of the impure spirit (low wines) is fed throught thboth the colun stills before being pumped back into the second pot still and then into the final, spirit pot still. In the intermediate still it rejoins the distillate considered to be of the highest quality form the furst run from the wash still. Meanwhile, in the first column still the immpures spirit form teh first pot still does not make its long, complicate journey alone: it is mixed with the impures spirit from the intermediate and spiriy pot stils...
I hope it's ok to reproduce this extract here.
I was reading that old distilleries, like the old Midleton, used to use oats in the mash too. I have yet to taste any of these old whiskeys, but most of the reviews are glowing. They would also be distilled using a less sophisticated method, I'd presume.
I would also be interested in a WM article on what you mentioned.
I also got Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, and it rates the standard Jameson as the top Irish, with 95 pts. This will help Irish Distillers move a few cases, I'd say.
I'm not certain about this, but I think (maybe) the original Talisker crafters were single distillers. From what I heard way back when they originally started out, the whisky was popular, but it alone delivered numerous persons to the cemetery.
Who knows the actual answer to hpulley's question? I'd like to hear it myself.
If a spirit was single-distilled, it might not have the abv strength to become whisky, especially after a long maturing process. I am not sure of the exact strengths the alcohol comes off each still.
Generally, they think whisky matures best at something around 60%abv, although I'm not sure of the figure.
Single distilled spirits would probably not taste nice, either.
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