Scotch Series 15: Nosing and Tasting

Nosing and Tasting are skills to be developed like any others – practise playing the fiddle, practise the skills of football, practise nosing and tasting – one needs to wake up one’s taste buds and develop a nuanced flavour vocabulary. One can build up an understanding of why whisky tastes like it does due to its construction. Once one has developed a more highly evolved palate one can usually discern more flavours and aromas – and more often than not widen one’s appreciation for many whiskies.

Phenol is a “family” of flavour compounds – Phenol is the overarching name – it contains guaiacols, syringols, phenols and other things. You have smokey and peated and they are different, but you can get both in one whisky – ie Ardbeg. Octomore it is peated and not so much smokey. The mouthfeel and cut of the spirit contribute to the experience of peatiness. Octomore has the highest figure of ppm – but drinking Supernova from Ardbeg which has less than half the number of ppm than Octomore, is like drinking a peat due to the way Ardbeg is distilled, whereas drinking Octomore is not like drinking a peat, at all.