Head into a whisky shop and you’ll likely see bottles arranged according to grain type, region or category, perhaps grouped as Speyside single malts, Irish blends or Kentucky bourbons.
However distilleries within specific countries or regions are not tied to making the same style of whisky as their neighbours, so flavour can differ dramatically from bottle to bottle. Even the expressions released by an individual distillery can vary wildly.
This traditional way of categorising whisky can be somewhat helpful in giving you an understanding of the main styles available, but it can also make navigating whisky a bit daunting, particularly if you’re a beginner. An alternative approach is to group whiskies together by flavour profile.
This more novel approach helps us understand the style of whisky we enjoy and find other similar-tasting expressions.
At OurWhisky we’ve identified five flavour profiles that are common across a broad selection of whisky from Scottish single malts and blends to Bourbons and ryes.
OurWhisky Flavour Profiles
FRAGRANT: Typically floral and light in character, these whiskies can carry aromas of spring flowers, citrus fruit or sandalwood.
FRUITY: These whiskies can show fresh orchard fruits like apples and pears, tropical pineapple, mango or papaya, red berries or even dried fruit like figs, prunes and raisins.
SMOKY: These tend to be peated whiskies with flavours ranging from barbecued meat and bonfire smoke to Lapsang Souchong tea, iodine or incense.
SPICY: These whiskies exhibit a range of zingy cask spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper and anise.
SWEET: Here you’ll find a buffet of dessert-like flavours from pastries, custard and vanilla cream to caramel and chocolate.
Each whisky featured in our subscription packs and at events have been tried and tasted by our experts and categorised into one or two of these flavour profiles. Become a member and over time you’ll be able to develop your own palate and better understand the types of whiskies you typically enjoy.
These flavour profiles are deliberately broad to cover a wide range of expressions. Each of the whiskies we feature also come with additional tasting notes, but it’s ultimately up to you to discover the unique flavours of each as you embark on your whisky journey.
Take a peek at our recent tastings to discover the different whisky flavour profiles our members have tasted so far.