Monday, October 24, 2016

Tasting Notes Through the Years

I read a lot of whiskey reviews and spend a lot of time evaluating whiskey with friends, and one thing I've noticed is that as a whiskey drinker gains experience, the nature of their tasting notes changes.  Here's a general example of how whiskey tasting notes tend to change through the years.

Novice - One Year Experience
This is good whiskey.

Intermediate - Four Years Experience
Nose: Caramel and butterscotch.
Palate: Soft caramel notes, molasses, maple syrup.
Finish: A nice caramel note with some mint and spices.

Advanced - Eight Years Experience
The nose opens with Gaviota strawberries, green figs and a light alfalfa note in the background, after which it picks up soft tobacco, leather and Meyer lemon rind with the heft of a midnight fog that lifts gently off the ocean surface in a coastal town in Northern Maine. The palate shows seaweed, sponge cake, candied oranges and preserved lemons, with water bringing out allspice, Malaysian vanilla and spearmint. The mouthfeel is velvety with an oily residue akin to that of Ardbeg circa 1972-78. The finish is medium-long with traces of gooseberry, Blenheim apricot pit and anise.

Veteran - Over Ten Years Experience
This is good whiskey.


Anonymous said...

A small wine glass of walnut liqueur and some of those old copper coins that we love so much. Call the anti-maltoporn brigade!

Kevin said...

I had the exact same realization a few weeks ago (the only change as a "veteran" being that I care more about the QPR.)

Florin said...

This is very Zen of you, Sku!

Kevin said...

Brilliant distillation of the situation, as always.

Anonymous said...

Wait, are you saying Serge at WhiskeyFun is at it for less than 10 years? But to be fair, 90% of his reviews are on whiskies us mere whiskey mortals will never dare sip ( so I guess I would wax poetically on them as well if I were him ).

sku said...

As with many things, Serge is the exception.

Anonymous said...

This is a good blog entry.

Unknown said...

I tend to be more binary - either I like it or I don't.

Rick said...


I love it

Keith said...

Now seriously though for those long lyrical notes ... sherry and cherry and raisins are awfully similar. Wet sheep... no wet dog. Gaviota strawberries? I wonder
If there are like 20 things we can detect but it would be boring using the same words so people write lemon vs lemon zest vs verbena just to make it sound less monotonous. Anyone agree?

Anonymous said...