Tasting notes that accompany your average bottle of whisky usually move me to tears. They come streaming out of my eyes, not because of the eloquent wording and prosaic descriptions, but rather at the pure absurdity. Some marketing team out there was convinced by the detailed scribbles of the master distiller that most or at least some of the folk buying their whisky would be capable of tasting rubber, beeswax or even the insert of an old boot. I know a few other whisky drinkers, and to be honest, none of us have tried to memorize any of the above aromas and tastes. It goes without say, that if I were to see anyone sniffing, or God forbid, tasting sweaty shoe leather, I’m certain I wouldn’t ask to share. Ugh.
And yet, with each tasting notes sheet that comes across my desk I’m amazed at the level of finesse a distiller is able to identify scents and flavors. Are they really tasting smoked kippers with a salted butter, peppered bite, or did the geezer hand in a paper napkin that said, “It’s a little fishy, but it’s got one hell of a kick!”? I’m not kidding. The prior is the Nose description on my new bottle of Amrut single malt peated – cask strength. I’ve smelled it and I’m not getting kippers. Nor would I have purchased the bottle had I known they were describing kippers as a good thing.
The taste is described as barely reaching puberty–and that’s just part of it, but I won’t repeat the rest. Now do you see what I mean? Why I’m laughing so hard? You want more? The words used to describe the finish are a bit like the ones Meg Ryan used to demonstrate a woman’s ability to fake an orgasm. Yup. I’d probably keep this tasting sheet under your mattress or in a box in a closet on the top shelf. But hey, this is India. Maybe it’s how they’re trying to compete.
I usually try not to read any notes until I’ve had my first sniff and sip. It’s really hard not to be influenced by somebody else’s palette and I find that not only does it take the fun out of developing your own nose and tongue, but it can also make you feel a little ill-equipped if you were totally off the mark.
So what did I taste? Definitely peat. A bit of molasses and a malty roundness. Funny enough, there was something about it that came across somewhere around the third or fourth sip that made me think that this malt didn’t come from the motherland. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but after reading the tasting notes, maybe I now know what distilled kippers taste like. Do try!