What’s up with Whiskey?

I am up to my neck in whiskey right now.  Books, articles, apps, and pdfs all talking about whiskey.  In the past week of research I’ve learned one thing – it is very challenging to learn about whiskey (aka whisky, usquebaugh, uisge beatha, or “the water of life”).  To call whiskey obtuse would be mild.  There’s tons of tradition and information surrounding whisky but very little information about how to find a whiskey you might enjoy.

I can tell you that there are more than 30 different types of whiskey.  I can tell you where they are from.  I can tell you how they are made.  I can cite peer-reviewed research articles breaking down the chemistry of the aroma of whiskey through employ of a mass spectrometer, or my favorite (and seemingly most arcane), the “Whisky aroma profile based on headspace solid phase microextraction using different fibre coatings”.

However when it comes to the flavor of whiskey, there is very little written by way of comparisons or similarities.  Reviewers treat each whiskey like a snowflake – no two are identical.  I do recognize that each whiskey is different, but how they make each particular type of whiskey should share some common characteristics.  Just as Coors and Budweiser are different, they are more similar to each other than they are to a Double Simcoe Hop IPA.  Just as when it comes to Rye Malt Whiskey versus Irish Whiskey, there are going to be more similarities among the Rye Malts than to the Irish Whiskey.  In short what I’m going to try to put together here doesn’t yet exist as far as I can tell.  Nothing in the scientific journals, on Google, or in periodicals that I’ve researched.  Lots of one off reviews, but nothing comprehensive.

What I am going to attempt to do is classify the High Identifying Trait flavors of 16 different types of whiskey, from Scottish Speyside Single Malt  to Moonshine.  Take that information and visually map it out for ease of use and comprehension.  Then I thought it would be interesting to create a place mat or tray liner that could be used for whiskey tastings to compare how those 16 different whiskeys compare to one another.

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