I have encountered an interresting fact while searching knowledge about whisky. Some very frequent whiskyterms have apparently different meanings for different people. Perhaps some of you can add some more. I was wondering how you personally comprehend these words? What do they mean for you and how do you use them?
I hope people wont be scared to answer because it might be different then the others. Like i said i already encountered at least 2 variations of each term. and i bet there are many more around.
Body - Similar to "mouthfeel". Is it oily, thin, coating, viscous, chewy, etc?
Finish - The flavours or sensations that emerge or remain after you've swallowed, and the duration that these hang around for.
Malt - Can be used in several contexts. It can be used to describe a bottle, a dram, a variety of whisky, etc. However, when I say something like, "I can really taste the malt", then I'm referring to the dried barley itself. Some malts are particularly malty! (That's one for Mr Picky). Some people also associate it with cereal-like flavours, which I guess is still relating it back to the original grain.
Balance - How well are all the different aromas, flavours and characters integrated? Does something stick out too much? Does the peat or smoke disguise or outweigh the citrus? Does the wood overpower the sweetness? Or is everything just sitting nicely and in balance with one another?
Complexity - How many different characteristics are present in the whisky? A complex whisky will have lots of things happening simultaneously - citrus, flowers, peat, smoke, sweetness, sherry, toffee, vanilla, spices, fragrances, etc, etc. In contrast, a non-complex whisky can be very one dimensional. A heavily peated whisky is not very complex or enjoyable if the peat & smoke is all that it has to offer.
Smoky - When the peat-reek genuinely smells like you're sniffing something that's burnt or burning.
It is perhaps worth noting to those not familiar with British usage that the word "malt" as a noun is commonly used to mean "single malt Scotch whisky", as well, in a different context, as grain that has been malted. Brits refer to malts and blends. The usage is not common in the US, although we pretentiously snooty types are doing our best to popularize it.
as for Malt, i mean the taste "malt" not single malt whisky. i will add my own perspective on the terms too.
Body: Texture/ mouthfeel, just like Admiral, how oily or thin doe the malt feel in the mouth, best tasted while the malt is still in the mouth.
Finish: probably the one with the most diverse opinions. for me, this is the tail of the whisky, you feel the malt going up to its highest prime, then starts the finish. i dissagree with finish being the taste after swallowing, because you get little flavors before swallowing, the highest flavors come always after swallowing.so the taste starts in the mouth up to the highest point of the flavor after swallowing, everything after the top is finish for me.
Malt: 2 different flavors, you have sweet malty flavors that i cant describe, its what i experienced while being at a distillery, you could smell it. and then the malt like Admiral describes it, cereal-barley-grainy malt flavors.
Balance and complexity is exactly the same to me as to Admiral.
Smoke: tricky one, to me its not peat, peat is a flavor, smoke is more a feeling in the throat. while to me all peaty drams are smoky, there are many smoky drams with no peat flavors. a good example of slightly smoky is Glenfarclas 15.
im sure many will dissagree and i'd like to hear your opinions, mine might change.
Finish to me is precisely the flavors that dance on the tongue after swallowing. People speak of a long finish--you know, down your Ardbeg, walk out of the pub, row across the bay, bicycle twelve miles home, and it's still there. I find it interesting to inhale over the tongue after swallowing--there's probably something going on with evaporation there, of the residue left in your mouth. The flavors you taste while the stuff is still in your mouth, I would qualify as "palate".
Since malting is the process by which starch in the grain is converted to sugar, I take "malt" to be those particular sweet flavors which anyone who has visited a distillery or brewery, or has done home brewing, can identify. I would distinguish it from grainy or cereal flavors, at least as a descriptive matter--the two are probably too intertwined to dissociate entirely. But "malt" is malted grain, rather than raw barley.
You could actually buy "malt" - a finely ground powder, being precisely the same stuff brewers and distillers use.
When mum wasn't looking, we'd spoon-feed the malt directly into our mouths.
Malt was also a flavour enhancer long before the days of MSG.
It has a very distinctive flavour - and I love whiskies where the taste of the malt comes through unscathed.
Yet sadly, considered to be axle grease by most US folk!
Jerry Seinfeld was asked on his Australian tour a few years back whether he had tried any. When he answered no and was asked why not, he replied, "Because I smelled it!"
Ah, Vegemite, lovely stuff. As far as I know I haven't seriously offended Admiral with my maunderings on whisky, but I may do so now. As good as Vegemite is, I prefer Marmite. Vegemite is to Marmite what a Glenmorangie 10 yr is to a Smoky Ardbeg 10 yr...
An Aussie friend of mine was having a bit of fun startling his Japanese students by telling them about the Vegemite he had just gotten from home. He sang its praises and then offered to let them try a bit of it on a spoon. One of them took a deep whiff from the jar and was so startled that she dropped it and broke the jar!
Ed wrote:Hello All,
One of them took a deep whiff from the jar and was so startled that she dropped it and broke the jar!
Now that's what I call quick thinking!
I tried vegemite years ago--sorry, Admiral, I wouldn't want my axles to smell like that--and have always been curious about marmite. It's available in my local supermarket, right next to the "brown sauce" (what could be more appetizing?). Ah, British cuisine.
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