So you may be wondering what is the differences between the different single malt whisky brands that are on sale. For example at the Whisky Exchange (click here to view) there are literally hundreds of different kinds of whiskies to choose from.
Is there really any difference? In this post I will help you to know what goes into the flavour of single malts and this can help in choosing your first single malt whisky. First of all if you want to know about the history of single malt whisky production in Scotland then click on the link.
Single malt scotch whisky has to be matured in oak casks for at least three years. The only additives allowed in it is water (only the best and purest Scottish spring water is the best) and caramel colouring. This doesn’t affect the taste, just enhances the colour. The oak casks usually have had other drinks kept in them. These could be bourbon, wine, sherry, port, rum or other alcoholic drinks. This will affect the flavour and give some interesting twists to the taste. You will some times see a single malt as ‘sherry cask finish’. This means that the whisky has been kept for sometime in a sherry cask.
Peat also affects the flavour. The peat flavour gets into the whisky by it being used in the malt barley drying process. It is also used to heat the stills. Many single malt whiskies from Islay have a heavy peaty flavour to them.
Age. The longer a whisky has been matured in the oak casks then the stronger flavour it will have. This is in part due to the evaporation process that happens. Around 2% of the alcohol is lost every year to evaporation and this leave the heavier alcohol in the cask. Age isn’t the only determining factor for a stronger taste. For example a 12-yr old Lagavullin is much more pungent than a 12-yr old Bowmore. Even though the both come from Islay, use peat in the process and have been aged for 12 years.
In the world of single malt scotch whiskies there is definitely much to choose from and it can be a daunting task to pick our your favourite single malt.