You do not always agree at all with a Whisky characterization of another person? Is there something like the “absolute taste”?
Should you keep silent rather than outing yourself as “inexperienced” or “tasteless”? Or are there actually differences in the perception of a good scotch? What is the reason and how can we make use of this fact, e.g. with a special combination of the distinctive smoky 10 years Old Ballantruan and a piece of prune?
It is well known that tasting works in different ways and is influenced by different conditions. When we have eaten a piece of chocolate, the slice of orange seems to taste sour afterwards, which tasted sweet after having a piece of ham. Northern European children who are not used to spicy food may judge a peppered meal as “unbearably spicy,” while a Mexican would find the same food rather blandly flavored. Smelling also depends on the influences on which our nose was previously exposed. Someone who sits in a stuffy room all day barely notices the bad air anymore, while someone who is just entering that room is aware of it immediately. This also affects the enjoyment of whisky. Perhaps you have already noticed that the same Scotch seems more or less smoky, oaky or sweet to you on different days?
Have you ever wondered why you hardly recognize the well-known taste of your favorite Scotch today?
Why is a special Scotch often described with different characteristics by different people? And do you have to doubt your own judgement facing the “absolute taste” of an “expert”? Our smell and taste depend on our disposition, our constitution, our mood and what we have previously eaten or smelled. The characterization of a whisky is therefore always a little relative and forms an average of the most felt notes. But it may well be that you simply cannot find these notes in the relevant dram today.
Do not let yourself be ripped off. That is not necessarily because your taste does not work, but maybe simply because it works THAT way today. Of course, the taste can also be trained and developed if you extensively spend time on it. And one can generally say that with the appropriate inner peace and time you can enjoy a Scotch (and many other things) much more intensely. But the taste will never be “neutral” and “universal”. Even the most experienced whisky connoisseur does not have an “absolute taste”, as one finds the “absolute musical ear” among blessed musicians.
Well, that is not necessarily all negative. We can finally make use of this fact. Certain snacks or surroundings can also increase enjoyment. Therefore, feel free to make you own experiments and find out how you can particularly enjoy certain types of Scotch in different moods. Is 18-year-old Old Pulteney’s maritime aroma enhanced when you enjoy it in a beachfront restaurant? Or do the sherry aromas reveal more extensively in the salty air? Does the 15-year-old Springbank seem as “smoky” to you in a crowded pub, as on your terrace in the fresh air? Where do you enjoy it more?
Today I want to recommend another little experiment to you. A strong, peaty scotch like the 10-year-old Old Ballantruan can work wonderfully in combination with sweet, dried fruit. Plums, for example, are a good choice. Chew a small piece of dried fruit and then slowly pour a sip of Old Ballantruan over it. – A variant for those who like to experiment … I’m curious how you will find it.