Single malt Scotch whisky flavour map

Whisky isn’t complicated, it simply needs to be explained in the right way.

The Flavour Map will help you choose a single malt whisky based on its taste. Developed by some of Scotland’s most experienced professionals, the map demonstrates that – when it comes to flavour in a glass of whisky – all single malts can be plotted on a simple grid.

flavour map
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Explaining the two axes

Delicate: The whiskies at this end of the axis normally use no peat in the malting process. While movement up the axis sees an increase in complexity, this is without any discernible level of smokiness derived by peat. Towards the light end there is a floral, grassy freshness. Moving towards the richer side of the map, subtler nutty, barley and biscuity flavours start to come through.

Smoky: Single malts found in the two smoky quadrants all contain discernible levels of peat, which is burned in the malting process. Ranging from scented smoke and bonfires, to kippers and lapsang souchong, they’re epitomised by Islay malts such as Lagavulin and Caol Ila.

Light: This end of the vertical axis houses whiskies whose characteristics exhibit fresh flavours: green grass, soft fruits, cereal. Such flavours tend to reflect the processes followed by a distillery, such as fermentation or size and shape of the stills.

Rich: Whiskies at the rich end of the axis contain characteristics often derived from the nature of the wood used during maturation. Typical flavours range from vanilla (given by American oak casks) to nuttiness to cigar box, chocolate and dried fruit (from European oak casks). Whether a cask is first fill or refill will make a difference to flavour.


Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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1 Comment

  1. We will have to have a dram one of these days!

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