Navigating the 12 Flavour Profiles
I remember choosing my first bottle as a member, and having a bewildering amount of choice in a land of green bottles with brightly colored strips. Reading through my first Outturn and not knowing where to begin, I was guided to the 12 flavour profiles to make my first choice, and over the years, even now as part of the SMWS team, I still use them. The Society’s 12 flavour profiles provide another layer of information to help whisky-lovers navigate the embarrassment of riches that each outturn gives, and as whisky season ramps up, I thought a guide would be helpful in choosing your next Society cask!
I’m New Here:
Is this your first time exploring the world of single cask, cask strength whisky? With a bounty of options, it can be hard to know where to start. We have two flavour profiles ripe for picking your first selections as a member! The Sweet, Fruity and Mellow flavour profile focuses on the best in sweet whisky, evoking thoughts of sherbet and other treats. The mellow flavours and strength (or ABV) make this a popular profile for beginners. The Light & Delicate flavour profile is another great first step into the world of single cask, cask strength whisky, as this offers more subtle notes of fruit on the palate. This profile varies in ABV, which allows for exploration at many strengths!
Cask No. 7.263 ‘Dancing to the Rhythm’: bold sweet peach and honey fill the palate on this viscous sweet treat!
Cask No. 35.290 ‘ Float like a Daddy Longlegs’: a higher strength delivers softer notes of wintergreen and hot crossed buns, filling your palate with your favourite holiday flavours.
Pour me a bourbon:
Coming from the land of bourbon and rye? Well, we’re glad you’re here! We have many members joining in on the flavour exploration in Scotch whisky that the Society offers. I usually recommend starting with our Juicy, Oak and Vanilla flavour profile for those who love bourbon. Here we see deeper wood influence and juicy fruit flavors, and those classic vanilla notes we love in a bourbon. Our Spicy & Dry flavour profile offers those bold spice forward notes, similar to that of more spicy rye whiskies!
Cask No. 78.45 ‘Kaa’s stare’: marzipan cherries and wooden bowls, all delivered in a juicy basket of fruits!
Cask No. 26.168 ‘A rustling through the dunes’: picnic in the sand dunes on a warm sunny day with brown butter bourbon spiced biscuits, popcorn with honey and cinnamon as well as lemon poppy seed snack balls made with oats!
Fancy a sherry?
Are you a fan of sherry cask matured whisky, or those profiles of marmalade, balsamic glazed fruits and demerara? The Deep Rich & Dried Fruits flavour profile is just for you! Here we see casks like Oloroso, Pedro Ximenez and other fortified wines used for both full maturation and finishing. If you’re just getting into these deeper flavours, and not ready to take the plunge into these types of casks, the Spicy & Sweet flavour profile offers notes like gingerbread, hot cross buns, mulled wine and even balsamic strawberries and makes for a great introduction into the
Cask No: 41.142 'Jam packed with darkness': big notes of venison steak in a full-bodied red wine and bitter chocolate sauce and for good measure, a few Reese’s Pieces peanut butter candy in a crunchy shell.
Cask No. 113.42 ‘Forest foraging’: this 23-year Speyside exudes calvados, vintage champagne and pork cutlets with applesauce, offering hearty flavours from a refill hogshead.
Age is just a number:
We celebrate whisky of all ages, and have two flavour profiles that are perfect for exploring whisky both young and old. Our Young & Spritely flavour profile showcases spirt forward casks that are malty and robust, with notes like gummi bears, rhubarb and sherbert sweets! A profile that goes to show that young whisky should be celebrated! At the other end of that is our Old & Dignified flavour profile where we celebrate the characteristics that can only come from long, careful maturation and older, well-balanced age statements. Notes such as honeycomb, brandy snaps, and dark chocolate orange to excite the palate and make this flavour profile a must try!
Cask No. 82.30 ‘Workstation expectation’: a robust 9 year Highland offers notes of fruit candies and grenadine, perfect for your sweet tooth!
Cask No 38.28 ‘Winter walk hipflask’: aged for 25 years, this magical elixir gives us chopped mixed fresh fruits, like apples, pears, bananas and pineapple all stewed in orange-flavoured sugar syrup!
A trip to the seaside:
What is perhaps our most mysterious and elusive of the bunch, the Oily and Coastal flavour profile contains coastal whiskies, but it isn’t limited to them. That’s because the Society challenges traditional whisky convention to focus on flavour. The flavours in this category remind us of coastal settings and the experiences one has by the sea, with oysters, barbecued prawns and beach bonfires! And to push the boundaries a little more, depending on the distillery, you may find a little whisper of soft peat in there too!
Cask 10.217 ‘Journey to the fest’: notes of horseradish roast beef roll-up with cream cheese and Dijon-style mustard which made it a zesty appetizer with waves of salty ocean spray!
Cask No. 93.169 'Inside the engine room': a Campbeltown gem with a salty tang to compliment the thick grease of a fishing trawler's engine room and sticky tar that combined with coal dust and syrupy cough medicine.
Speaking of peat, have you ventured into the smoky, salty, briny and earthen notes of peat land? Well, you’re in luck because we offer 3 flavour profiles from beginner to full on peat freak! For those just getting into peated whisky, our Lightly Peated flavour profile offers something for beginners and enthusiasts alike. Bonfires, ash and sooty notes are found here, and offer casks from many whisky producing regions of Scotland and beyond! Our Peated flavour profile cranks it up a notch and offers a clear sense of peat for Peated whisky enthusiasts. And then for our full-on peat lovers, our Heavily Peated flavour profile is just for you! Smokey whisky fans will love the rich aromas of cigar butts and wood burning stoves from some of the most iconic peat releasing distilleries!
Cask No. 93.168 ‘A knock-out combination’: this lightly peated Campbeltown whisky offers a whisper of smoke and mild sweetness from a Guyanese rum cask, making a lovely introduction into peat.
Cask No. 108.43 ‘A cornucopia of curiosities’: the palate brings together sweetness and peatness – cherry chocolates, brown sugar on a smoking side of salmon, rauchbier, liquorice, burning tarry driftwood and bacon sizzling in a skillet.
Our flavour profiles are meant to categorize the characteristics of a whisky, much like a flavour wheel, and I hope that this encourages you to take a step into a profile you have yet to explore. I’d love to know which flavour profiles are your favourites and which you are looking forward to exploring more! And, as always, you can always reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am more than happy to assist you with navigating these as well!
Wishing you a flavourful whisky adventure!