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at my favourite shop there was a customer who complained about a corky taste in a newly bought bottle yesterday. He said that he had bought the bottle the day before and drank some of the malt with his friends the same evening and all noticed that the malt was not in order. We tried it there and then and being a sherried whisky it was very winey in the nose and there was something else, tangy, musty. It tasted much to winey too and .... it was hard to point out exactly what was wrong. At the end of the finish was a definetly corky taste on tongue and palate that just would not go away.
NOTE: I do not want to start rumours or create a panic nor do I want to slight or harm the reputation of any distillery I will name.
I got curious and asked whether this had happened before and was told that it was the second case this week. The malts concerned were Glenfarclas 15 years OB (as mentioned above) and a Scapa 14 years OB. There had been other cases before, among them a 15 year old Bowmore Legend OB.
There is a problem with the production of good cork for bottling in Spain and Portugal. The too dry summers in the last couple of years, fires and a pest, a worm which destroys the bark of cork producing oaks have led to the phenomenon that the corks they can produce at all are too porous. Because of the draught the cork layers on the oaks are too thin and they have less density.
Mayor wine producer and wine makers in South Africa, Kalifornia etc. switched to screw tops bacause they have had a return rate of up to one third of their production because of cork problems. That is not good for any reputation.
I did not encounter corkiness in a malt as yet. So I thought I put the question to you. It might, only might be the starting point of something we might encounter more often in the future.
Any comments on that?
Corks aren't even necessary. They're just an image thing, as I believe they add nothing to the whisky. I wonder when we'll be seeing plastic corks in whisky bottles. Probably not any time soon.
Aidan wrote:Corks aren't even necessary. They're just an image thing, as I believe they add nothing to the whisky. I wonder when we'll be seeing plastic corks in whisky bottles. Probably not any time soon.
I don't know why they bother at all with corks in liquor. In the short and long term, it's nothing but problems. Here through the miracle of modern technology, a solution to both short and long term corking problems has already been invented (and after 80-odd years of use on liquor bottles in its current form, proven unharmful and effective I would hope) but higher end liquor maufacturers aren't using it for fear of being seen as having no respect for tradition! For Pete's sake, it's been almost 100 years already, you didn't drag your feet this long in deciding to start selling by the bottle instead of the barrel, did you?
Getting easier to fine some finer wines with the screwtop and perhaps when the "high-end" wine industry is more committed only then will the stigma be foregotten.
Aidan wrote:I wonder when we'll be seeing plastic corks in whisky bottles. Probably not any time soon.
My bottle of Compass Box Asyla has a synthetic stopper, made of some type of rubbery material. FWIW, it works very well.
IMHO, there's nothing wrong with modern plastic screw-tops. I've seen them on Yamazaki 12 and some bourbons (even some top-shelf bourbons like ORVW 15), and I've never had problems with them.
Perhaps the answer will come from Admiral's homeland:
Of course, they put the cork in the bottom of the bottle down there.
Aidan wrote:...I wonder when we'll be seeing plastic corks in whisky bottles. Probably not any time soon.
I have a current, export-only bottling of Olde St. Nick 12yo bourbon from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers which has a plastic (I think -- not natural, anyway, but synthetic) cork. So, it has begun, at least in a small way.
I once tried a bottle of White Horse that had been purchased in 1960 and left sitting forgotten on a shelf. It had a metal and rubber stopper of a kind similar (but not identical) to this. My grandfather calls them "over-centre" fastenings. Judging by the flavour of the White Horse whisky, the stopper haddone an admirable job over the course of 30-something years.
- on edit - finally managed to get a picture into a quotation!
I've been lucky this far and haven't experienced "corked" whisky and I hope I never will. However, the best way to avoid problems with fluids reacting to either the metal in screwcorks or the usual natural cork problems is to make it look like the real thing but make it in a synthetic material. Winebottles with natural corks are to be stored horisontally and with screwcorks you store them standing. With a synthetic you can do both without affecting the fluids in any way.
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