Defining characteristic of a great single malt

  • Carlton
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    Member Carlton
    Joined: 26.08.2016Posts: 182CollectionEmpty Bottle ClubRatings: 147

    I believe that a great single malt should have balance. By that I mean not only balance among the different flavors that it presents but also balance among the nose, palate, and finish.

    How do you define a great single malt?

    Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets. (Ron Swanson)
  • kroman Member Joined: 16.04.2016Posts: 90Collectionkromans CollectionRatings: 16
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    One that forces me to sip slower, lol!

    Seriously, though, I like a single malt that is MOSTLY predictable. It should smell the way it looks (assuming it is uncolored) and taste the way it smells. I like unpredictability in the finish. Is a specific flavor extremely pronounced and/or come out of nowhere? This will keep me coming back for another sip!

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  • horst_s Administrator horst_s Joined: 01.07.2014Posts: 301Ratings: 704
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    A great single malt has to have a balance as you said. There has to be an intense aroma. And this is only possible to be there, if they used good casks which add vanilla, caramel and some spiciness. The distillery character itself might be different from malt sweetness to citrus dryness. But it should be there as well.

    If there is smoke, it should not be too intense. Otherwise it will hinder the other aromas from shining through.

    The taste has to be full an rich. Most of the taste comes again from the cask. If the citrus an malt notes do not vanish - perfect. There has to be enough alcoholic strength to give you a good kick. But too much is not good, because it paralyses your tasting budds. And if you have to dilute, then the aromas should not pass away.

    The aftertase should be long but not too long. Too long aftertastes are typically harsh or bitter.

    One out of ten of the bottles I taste come in this direction. But very rarely it all comes together.

    Kind regards, Horst Luening, Master Taster, Whisky.com
  • pasvraiment Member pasvraiment Joined: 05.11.2015Posts: 25Collectionpasvraiments CollectionRatings: 0
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    Only thing not mentioned above is the "chewing" mouth feel. Some scotchs are simply mouth watering (salivation). I like robust scotch, I do not mean necessarily peated or cask strength. I saw it first in Oban, the "chew" factor, but most Taliskers have it, Clynelish 14 also. I think its a combination of the sugars and the raw taste. I found it more in 10 to 15 years scotchs, but then again, that's mostly in that age bracket that I drink scotch (because in part of price). Anyway, I like the "chew factor".

  • horst_s Administrator horst_s Joined: 01.07.2014Posts: 301Ratings: 704
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    "pasvraiment" wrote:
    Only thing not mentioned above is the "chewing" mouth feel.
    The chewy mouthfeel has two origins. One side is the amount of 'fusel' oils which bring as well taste into the whisky. The second factor is simply the alcoholic strength. The viscosity of a water alcohol mixture varies over the strength.

    The maximum of the viscosity ranges from 43 to 46% ABV. The mixture is 2.8 times more viscose than pure water. Here is the link to the data.
    Kind regards, Horst Luening, Master Taster, Whisky.com
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  • Carlton
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    Member Carlton
    Joined: 26.08.2016Posts: 182CollectionEmpty Bottle ClubRatings: 147
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    Then we would expect whiskies that stop the spirit distillation at a lower alcohol % to have a chewier mouth-feel (all else being equal), correct?

    Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets. (Ron Swanson)
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