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Flavour Profiles

Whisky is a versatile, complex spirit that can deliver a range of flavours, evoking different responses from member to member. Our Tasting Panel has developed 12 unique whisky flavour profiles to help group whiskies into easily identifiable categories. Think of them as locations on a flavour map, and prepare to take a journey through our ever-changing selection of single cask, single malt whiskies.

Exploration is the greatest joy of Society membership, roaming the broad vistas of flavour and aroma represented in our single cask whiskies. But exploration without a map can be frustrating.

This is the reason why we have created 12 distinct flavour categories, each represented by its own colour, from Young & Spritely to Old & Dignified; Light and Delicate to Heavily Peated. These 12 categories offer an alternative to the more traditional method of categorising whiskies by their region of origin (Islay, Speyside, and so on).

Our flavour map gives whisky lovers a far better way to navigate our vast and ever-changing selection of single cask bottlings, many of which are not typical of their region.

 

Young & Spritely

Our Young & Spritely flavour profile challenges established age conventions and reflects the whisky’s character rather than its age statement.

Typically, the bottlings from this flavour profile come from within the 8 to 14-year-old age bracket and exude characteristics of younger whiskies, with flavours such as sour apple sweets, rhubarb, gummi bears, tinned mandarins and flying saucer sherbet sweets.

Sweet Fruity & Mellow

Our Sweet, Fruity & Mellow whisky flavour profile is a culinary delight, with watermelon, Pimms, apple pie, or even lime marmalade.

The profile focuses on the best in sweet whisky, evoking thoughts of sherbet and other treats. The mellow flavours and strength make this a popular profile for beginners and experienced enthusiasts alike.

Spicy & Sweet Whisky

Expressions within the Spicy & Sweet whisky flavour profile can vary, but common flavour experiences can include gingerbread, hot cross buns, mulled wine and even balsamic strawberries.

Think about the culinary experience of bringing spice into sweet dishes, the addition of cinnamon to pastries or sweet chilli flavours from East Asia.

Spicy & Dry

The Spicy & Dry whisky flavour profile contains expressions from all over Scotland. The iconic flavour experiences captured in the profile evoke memories of cooking with nutmeg, cloves and peppercorns.

On the nose this profile delivers rich experiences and includes whiskies with strong aromas of sandalwood, pencil shavings and even tree bark.

Deep Rich & Dried Fruits

Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits offers a wonderful selection of aromas and flavours. Our Tasting Notes describe fruity whisky profiles on the nose such as marmalade, balsamic glazed fruits and demerara.

If you discover flavours of rum truffles, treacle toffee and salted caramel, you're probably not far off for this profile.

Old & Dignified

Our Old & Dignified whisky flavour profile exudes the characteristics that can only come from long, careful maturation and older, well-balanced age statements.

The Tasting Notes typically refer to rich flavours with clear aromas, such as honeycomb, brandy snaps, and dark chocolate orange to excite the palate and make this flavour profile a must try.

Light & Delicate

The Light & Delicate flavour profile is one to confound your expectations, as it may not reflect a whisky’s age as perceive it.

The light whisky focuses more on subtle and delicate flavour experiences emerging from the drams, with softer flavours such as fresh laundry, peach and green tea.

Juicy Oak & Vanilla

Juicy Oak & Vanilla is a complex flavour profile, and one that offers an interesting assortment of flavour experiences.

Our exacting Tasting Panel describes clear aromas of honeysuckle, coriander seed and even dunnage warehouses. Flavours in this profile often include exciting, juicy fruits and a deeper wood flavour.

Think chocolate-coated cherries, passion fruit or pineapple sorbet.

Oily & Coastal

Our Oily & Coastal flavour profile certainly contains coastal whiskies, but it isn’t limited to them. That’s because the Society challenges traditional whisky convention to focus on flavour as the main guide.

The flavours in this category remind us of coastal settings and the foods and experiences available there, with oysters, barbecued prawns and beach bonfires.

Lightly Peated

The Lightly Peated whisky flavour profile is the first of three covering the sought-after Peated category.

Lightly Peated whiskies in this collection evoke intriguing flavours and aromas, from sweet Parma Violet sweets and toasted marshmallows to smoky garden bonfires and wood ash.

This profile makes an excellent first step into Peated whiskies for those exploring whisky flavours and is a great offering for more seasoned Peated whisky fans.

Peated

The Peated whisky flavour profile sits between Heavily and Lightly Peated whiskies, offering a clear sense of peat for Peated whisky enthusiasts and an intriguing step into the world of Peated whisky for explorers.

The profile has robust perfumed aromas on the nose, while the flavour delivers rich meats and roasted foods.

Expressions can deliver herbal flavours and aromas that give this category a wide range of flavour experiences.

Heavily Peated

Heavily Peated whisky comes with the territory of strong smoky flavours and earthy tones. Smokey whisky fans will love the rich aromas of cigar butts and wood burning stoves.

On the palate, Heavily Peated whiskies often deliver smoked fish or meats.

The flavour mixes and intricate aromas make this a compelling and powerful category to explore.
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Flavour Profiles: How It Works

The Society’s 12 flavour profiles provide another layer of information to help whisky-lovers navigate the hundreds of Society bottlings released each year, as Spirits Manager Euan Campbell explains.

“The flavour profiles are deliberately very broad strokes,” he says. “Rather than trying to describe exactly what makes a whisky special – which is still the job of the tasting notes – they’re simply a way of navigating the whiskies, so you can begin to pin down what you’re looking for.”

But why not simply use the whisky regions as a broad indicator of character? “We felt grouping the whiskies by region wasn’t actually that useful,” continues Campbell. “Because of the unique nature of single casks, we’ll very frequently bottle whiskies that don’t fit in with the regional stereotype, let alone matching that specific distillery’s standard profile.