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Advice: Peter Silver on Tasting

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Capn Jimbo
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Joined: 11 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:44 am    Post subject: Advice: Peter Silver on Tasting Reply with quote


Sue Sea and I are real students of tasting. We've collected great numbers of tasting wheels, books and researched advice. Although the wacky world of rum has never really concerned itself with these things, the truly noble spirits of wine and whisky have done so.

I speak of terrific tasters and teachers like Dave Broom, Ralfy and the "boys over at Malt Maniacs. There are others. Rum tasters can learn a lot from these real experts, as both rum and whisky share many of the same aromas and flavors. With that in mind, I give you Peter Silver of the Maniacs:

"The easiest scent to detect is smokiness. If a malt has it, it can overpower all the other flavors in it, and you may not find any other flavors. This can be sensed as any kind of smoke, whether it manifests itself as smoked salmon or a fireplace: medicinal, iodine, peaty or phenolic (coal tar smell)."

"Fruit is also very commonly found, appearing as apples, pears, bananas, oranges, cherries, etcetera. They can be fresh fruit smells, taste like dried fruits, such as raisins, dried apricots or even stewed fruit like stewed apples, raspberry jam and marmalade."

"Vanilla appears in a great number of whiskies as well. It can be sensed as vanilla bean, toffee, caramel and butterscotch. Sherry is quite common note to experience due to sherry casking and finishes. It can be tasted as sherry, port, Madeira, brandy, burgundy or Chardonnay.

"Chocolate is one of my favorite things to find in a malt – it can be milk, dark, bitter, cream – any kind you like! Nutty is another possibility, with almonds, coconut, hazelnuts, marzipan and praline among those you can find. Floral scents can be heather, lilac, rose, geraniums, fresh cut grass, hay, even a barn!"

"Feinty characteristics can come from cuts of whisky that are not completely of the finest quality. These include tobacco, shoe polish, leather and plastic. Sulphury scents are rubber, pencil eraser, exhaust fumes, cabbage water and spent fireworks."

"And what about the technique?"

"First you need to be able to smell the whisky in order to taste it properly, for taste without smell is like having a bad cold – nothing tastes good. Bring the glass to your nose while opening your mouth slightly to keep you from anesthetizing your senses. If it burns your nose, add a few drops of bottled water (never tap water), swirl the whisky and try again. Many malts really open up and release aromas and flavors with the addition of the smallest amounts of water."

All of this is excellent advice and idiots would be well to pay close attention. Tasting is an acquired...

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