Single malt Scotch whisky is becoming increasingly popular all over the world and local whisky lovers can savour some of the world’s top selling single malt whiskies at the 2012 FNB Whisky Live Festival in Johannesburg from November 7 to 9.
Whisky is a complex and versatile spirit that offers a unique tasting experience. The true character of a good whisky comes through after some time, so it is important not to drink it too quickly and savour the variety of aromas and flavours.
When asked what in his opinion makes a great single malt whisky, Glen Grant Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm said: “Quite simply: Scotland. A superior single malt whisky is the result of the land on which the whisky is produced and takes its ingredients from. A combination of highland spring water, yeast and malted barley, all from Scottish fields, and matured in an oak cask are the unique elements that create a seductively smooth taste, rich, fruity tones and a golden hue. Glen Grant is a perfect example of this.”
The following tasting guidelines will help novice whisky drinkers to enjoy a memorable whisky experience. Start by appreciating the colour of the liquid in the glass as each single malt whisky has a unique colour developed during the time it is matured and stored in oak casks.
Delicately nose (smell) the whisky by placing your nose a few inches away from the glass. Keeping your mouth slightly open will help you to better discern and ‘taste’ the different aromas.
Tilt and turn the glass to allow the whisky to coat the glass. This increases the surface area, permitting greater evaporation and thus enhancing the aroma. Observe the consistency as it sticks to the sides of your glass, which is called legs.
Two things cause legs: alcoholic strength and natural viscosity. Sticky, full-bodies whiskies will have longer legs that take more time to slide back to the whisky, while lighter whiskies have less prominent legs.
Take a sip. Take just enough to coat your mouth and begin to slowly swirl it around your tongue. Feel the consistency of the whisky. Some feel thicker, oilier or grittier than others. This is referred to as the “mouthfeel.” Try and coat your tongue so that the whisky touches all of your taste buds. Try to hold the whisky in your mouth as long as it takes to notice all of the different flavours.
Palate is the depth of the flavour, defined by the taste experience of actually drinking the whisky. It includes the initial flavours from the first sip and the flavours that develop in the mouth as the whisky is swallowed. Try not to open your mouth or close your throat. Let in a tiny amount of air through your mouth and breathe through your nose slowly as the fumes rise up. You may notice different flavours. This is called the “finish.” Once the flavours subside, breathe normally.
Glen Grant Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm, will personally guide visitors through a magnificent journey of discovery of the Glen Grant portfolio of easy-drinking malt whiskies. With some 50 years’ experience in the whisky industry, Dennis manages and directs Glen Grant with uncommon passion and an unrivalled knowledge of the industry.
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience a taste of Speyside Scotland and the rich history of Glen Grant at the Glen Grant Distillation Zone where you will be able to savour a taste of the Major’s Reserve, the 10 year and 16 year olds. Entry is free and works on a first come, first served basis.
* Whisky connoisseurs might want to opt for a dedicated hour-long whisky workshop with Dennis Malcolm on Wednesday November 7 from6.30pm to 5.30pm and on Friday November 9 from 8.30pm to 9.30pm. Limited tickets are available at R120 per session. For more information and bookings, visit www.whiskylivefestival.co.za.