How to Choose your WhiskyWhether for yourself as an indulgence or as a special gift for someone else, selecting your whiskies is all part of the experience. Whisky can have a lot of very complex flavours, much more diverse than even white or red wine, but we’ve put a lot of effort into making sure you don’t have to be an expert to choose the ones you’d like.
We have created a selection of Whisky Tasting Sets that will help you choose the right ones for a particular occasion so please have a look at our notes about each set and the whiskies it contains. Our descriptions will help you make informed decisions on what to buy.
Our sets are very educational and allow you to taste a huge range of different whiskies, so why not try something different – you might be pleasantly surprised!
In Scotland there are five classified whisky-producing regions which have their own characteristics. Within each of the regions there are many distilleries, each having subtle differences. Of course, there are always exceptions! We created tasting sets which take a selection from each of the regions to enable you to compare the aromas and flavours.
The five main whisky regions in Scotland are:
AgeingWhisky only matures while in a wooden barrel; once in a bottle it is has stopped maturing, so the whisky in your tasting sets will not change over time. When an age is quoted in 'years’ it is the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. When a year is marked on the bottle it indicates the year it was distilled.
There is no ideal age for whisky, but you should be able to see the effect of ageing when you conduct your whisky tasting. The time whisky spends in a wooden cask often influences the colour and also enhances the oak flavour in the whisky. It can also give the whisky more ‘legs’, which you can see when you gently swirl the whisky around the glass.Some of our sets allow you to compare the effects of ageing various whiskies.
FinishesEssentially, after a substantial period of maturation in its original cask, the whisky is sometimes transferred into a different cask, which has previously held another alcoholic drink, for a period of finishing. This provides variations on the usual distillery style.The most common finishes feature various styles of Sherry, but others include Rum, Madeira, Burgundy and Port.
When tasting your whisky you may also be able to tell the difference between a ‘first-fill’ and ‘refill’ cask, where you may see the stronger influence of the finishing cask when it is a first-fill. You may want to choose a Whisky Tasting Set that allows you to experience some of these various finishes.
Single CasksSingle Cask whisky is taken from just one individual cask, the product of just one distillation run from just one distillery. This will provide the most individual whisky and is by definition a very limited edition – sometimes just a few hundred bottles.
The information on the label is usually extended to include the cask number, date of distillation, date of bottling and usually the number of bottles produced from that cask. If you want to try something really individual, then a Single Cask bottling is for you.
Cask StrengthWhile the majority of whisky is watered down to about 40% ABV, some whiskies are bottled at cask strength. These whiskies are usually older, and their alcohol level has increased over time from their original level at filling, often to about 55-60% ABV.
Because of these whiskys' age, they are a favourite of collectors who like to buy whisky at the strength it came out the cask, being the most pure form of whisky. It is usual to dilute cask strength whisky with up to one-third spring water for drinking.
Artisan Blended WhiskiesWe’ve created tasting sets from some of the most respected whiskymakers in the world who have created ‘artisan’ whiskies by blending flavours and influencing the whisky in creative new ways.
These whiskies tend have more consistent flavour than single malts, so it is interesting to experiment. This consistent approach enables the whisky to be paired with various food.There are a number of limited editions amongst these blends, including some rare grain whiskies.
Ultimately, whiskies make their own friends so we hope they find a friend in you. Learn, Taste, Enjoy!