Sobak Events hosted a whiskey tasting that featured 6 different whiskies from entry-level to rare and auctioned bottles from Scotland. Note: I am not a whiskey specialist, just an observer and knows how to use Google
In an hour and a half, Andy Chu gave us a rundown on the brief history and process of whiskey’s production while intertwining his whiskey experience in Australia and Scotland
How is Whiskey made?
Whiskey is made from three ingredients: barley, yeast, and water. Its life began like beer where the grain (ex. barley) is fermented with hot water to release sugars that are eaten by the yeast. Unlike beer, whiskey doesn’t need hops, a preservation step, because it is only fermented for a short while. Then, whiskey has to be distilled, the act of heating, condensing and collecting to increase its alcoholic strength, build flavour and purity
Whiskey History 101
Before whiskey was a well-known product , it was created by Scottish beer distilleries who wanted to flee a tax. The tax caused those who operated distillations to move their productions underground and with only the moonlight guiding distillers underground, the word ‘moonshine’ was born from creating spirits illegally.
Tasting Johnnie Walker, Singleton, Cardhu12
Johnnie Walker 18 Years Old Whiskey
Cask aged for 18 years, The Johnnie Walker Whiskey had a smokey and toffee smell and warm amber experience. As I am inexperience with whiskey, it was a “fire water” to me! However, according to Flaviar, the whiskey had flavours of vanilla and toffee and a lingering flamed orange zest and dark chocolate.
+ Paired with brie
Singleton Dufftown 12 Years Old
Compared to the Johnnie Walker, the Singleton Duffton has a more woody and clove taste. It smelled like “fire water” and burning but it had a sweeter taste. I personally felt it was a lot easier to drink.
+ Paired with milk chocolate
Cardhu 12 Years Old (not photographed)
Medium amber in colour, the Cardhu was fruitier with a lingering smokey flavour. I forgot to take photos of the label but it was also more pleasant to drink with a few drops of water
+ Paired with cheddar
Did you know whiskey tastes better with water?
I also learned it was appropriate to add a few droplets of water into whiskey as water is a component of whiskey. It enhances the flavour because guaiacol, a water repelling and attracting compound associated with the smokey flavour of whiskey, moves to the surface of the drink and interacts with the air to make the drink smell and taste better. Honestly, it made drink whiskey a lot easier!
Tasting Oban 14, Talisker 2002, Lagavulin 16
Oban 14 Year Old
This whiskey offering had a notable smokey flavour, peat, and vanilla. It was one of my favourites because the burning sensation was not as prominent as the other ones.
+ Paired with dark chocolate
Whiskey makers can choose to add a wine finishing to their whiskey by coating the cask/wheel barrel. Talisker 2002 is a bold example of using a spanish amoroso cask. There were smokey, peaty, sherry and sweet flavours from this whiskey
+ Paired with blue cheese
The most distinct and unique whiskey out of the 6 was the Lagavulin 16. It had a taste of BACON but actually it was the peat flavour containing iodine and mix of sherry and vanilla flavours. This whiskey grew on me after taking multiple sips and adding droplets of water.
+ Paired with white chocolate
If you want to learn about whiskey, check out Whisky with Andy Chu happening from January 10-11 in Vancouver or January 17-18th, 2020 in Toronto