|Do you see faces or a glass?|
I think this is very interesting and after some thought I came to the realisation that I could test this. Writing tasting notes for alcohol demonstrates it quite nicely. The reason for this is because what we taste in whisky and wine are esters and acids that form the flavour profile. For example, if you taste lemon in a dram then it is probably the citric acid content of the drink that is giving you that flavour. Of course tasting high alcohol beverages isn't as clean cut as that. There are so many chemicals knocking around in a glass of whisky that it is quite difficult to differentiate between them. This is the reason why tasting notes can differ so much. Some flavours are obvious; an Ardbeg tastes smoky to everyone, except those with the most warped palates, because of its high phenol content. So in essence, tasting notes become buzzwords that remind us of a particular flavour. Some aren't particularly pleasant, cat's piss is a common one for some sauvignon blancs, and it isn't even a critical tasting note. Conventions do occur, this is why you'll see similarities across tasting notes until you get occasions such as a conversation I had recently when one person got a complex leathery quality and the other (me) got car tyre.
So back to my test…
On hearing that the irrepressible Robert Manning who judged my tasting competition a few blogs back (see here), had tried the Glendronach 15 year old a couple of nights back, I went out to get a sample for myself. We then both wrote our tasting notes down ready for comparison. The idea being to see what similarities and differences there would be. Clearly there isn't much experimental control going on here but for the sake of whimsy we persevered. Here are our notes, starting with my own:
46% - 15 Years Old - Sherry Cask
Nose: A fruit driven nose of raisins and sultanas with raspberry and blackcurrants. Cabernet sauvignon is also present giving this woody whisky a stern backdrop.
Palate: The sherry wood is very apparent with dark fruits, dry leaves and a hint of ash adding to the Revival's rich intensity.
Finish: Port is the flavour that jumps to mind with that cabernet sauvignon appearing again with a dose of red currants.
Overall: Richer and more overpowering than the 'Dronach 12 year old. Maybe a touch too much wood for my liking although I'd say that is personal preference only. A masterclass in whisky making.
Nose: Dry sherry, and the bitter sweet aroma of cherries and summer fruits complimented by a biscuit-like maltiness.
Palate: Fruit cake, dried fruits with fresh citrus undertones and sweet toffee abide alongside a small hint of oak.
Finish: Fresh summer fruits and chewy toffee accompanied by a crescendo of malty liveliness.
Overall: Unlike any other whiskey in my tasting arsenal to date. Probably the smoothest dram I've had in a long while. Very fruity and sweet with a nice malty flavour. Christmas cake is the analogy of choice when describing this particularly morish dram.
|Us camping above Dalwhinnie|
with a cigar (midgie repellent!)