You may be aware that the Society recently participated in a fascinating study that was researching whether your preference for certain types or styles of whisky was linked to a specific personality trait. It went by the name of “Flavour Behaviour”, and if you have a scout around on the Society’s website, you’ll find a bit more information. It makes for fascinating reading.
It got me to thinking about how certain whiskies lend themselves to certain situations or environments, but not to others. For example, if you’ve read our tasting notes in Outturn over the years, you may have seen the occasional reference to a whisky being a “dram for contemplation”. The inference being, it’s a whisky that lends itself to a quiet moment alone, pondering the dram and life’s mysteries. It’s a whisky to spend time with, slowly savouring and eeking out its full story. If you were to drink it in a loud or fast moment, you’d miss its depth, complexity, and its ability to entertain you over time and a journey.
On the other hand, there are whiskies that lend themselves to social situations – casually drinking with friends, enjoying the moment, clinking glasses, and celebrating company. The whisky aids the gathering, rather than being the focus or subject of it.
And then, of course, there are the quaffing malts. A whisky that satisfies and hits the spot, without necessarily seeking or requiring analysis and assessment. A whisky needn’t necessarily be cheap or of a lesser quality to fall into this category. There are certainly some well-aged, good quality malts that can carry high (but justified) price tags that comfortably hold the tag of quaffer.
A lot of emphasis is spent these days on matching whisky to food, but my point is that whisky should also be matched to a mood. A whisky has a personality. It can be lively, cheerful, fun and vibrant, or it can be dark and brooding…..and anywhere in between. If you come home from work after a long, trying day, I daresay you’d reach for a different whisky than one you’d reach for after a happy day or to celebrate a major achievement or event.
Every Outturn we publish has not just a range of Flavour Profiles, but also a range of personalities. Each Outturn is a community of malts. As you flick through this month’s Outturn, be sure to ensure you’ve got a whisky to suit every occasion and mood.
Andrew Derbidge is Cellarmaster and Director of SMWS Australia.