Glen Moray Unveils World's Whackiest Whisky Tasting Notes
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‘Tastes Like the Left Wing of a Dead Seagull on an Islay Beach’: Glen Moray Reveals World’s Whackiest Whisky Tasting Notes

Whisky Tasting Notes

Tasting glasses are pictured as Chivas Regal launches the pinnacle of its range, Chivas Regal The Icon at The One & Only Royal Mirage on June 9, 2015, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Scotch whisky distillery Glen Moray has unveiled a list of wacky whisky tasting notes. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images for Chivas Regal)

With World Whisky Day (May 22) on the horizon, Scottish distillery Glen Moray asked whisky writers Dave Broom, Henry Jeffreys, Jim Coleman, Ian Wisniewski, Mark Gillespie, Brian Townsend and Philip Day to reveal the strangest tasting notes they’ve encountered.

“My bete noir for tasting notes, and I’m as guilty as anyone, is being unnecessarily specific, for example saying Conference pear, rather than just pear, Manuka honey rather than just honey, wild strawberries and Columbian Coffee,” Jeffreys said. “I think they are used to give a false sense of exactness.

“But, that’s not to say that tasting notes have to be plain. I love silly comparisons. My favourite ever tasting though, comes from wine and it is ‘sturdier than Robert Mitchum’s trousers press’. Beat that!”

Coleman, meanwhile, said the tasting note that has stuck with him most is “tastes like the left wing of a dead seagull on an Islay beach,” while Broom cited Charlie MacLean’s “dead guillemot” note.

Here are some highlights Glen Moray revealed, provided by experts and fans:

On the nose:

  • Sileage
  • Wet Labrador
  • Toilet Duck
  • A wet worsted blanket
  • Damp autumnal hay
  • Scented candle (but which scent?)

Broom commented on nose notes, saying: “Our sense of smell is an internalised sense and therefore the most personal. That means we all have different memories and triggers when we smell something. It depends on your background, where you live, what you eat, when you first encountered an aroma. No surprise then that you get some wild descriptors – but they are the right ones for you.
The key is to know what they mean. If I smell clean rabbit hutch/hamster cage I know I’m smelling a malty whisky …You might smell biscuits, or dusty attics … or a dead mouse…

It hinders enjoyment if you don’t allow people to relax and allow their memories to come out.”

Tastes like:

  • Pork scratchings dusted with paprika
  • Dirt
  • Damp cardboard
  • Spicy cigarette ash
  • A touch of the tack room
  • Roofing tar
  • Plankton
  • Driftwood campfire smoke – a tasting note that is not all together unusual, however as Whisky Cast’s Mark Gillespie points out, one he has caught holy hell for from his family over the years who always want to know “when where you ever around a driftwood campfire on a beach?”

In a word:

  • Grungy
  • Masculine
  • Flaccid
  • Inoffensive
  • Gullet-warming

Some other highlights:

  • “Like a young cricket bowler joining the senior squad too young: some of the delivery is wayward but the power, energy and enthusiasm is there in abundance.”
  • “Like a liquidised Tunnock’s Caramel Log in a glass”
  • “It’s a sit back with a cigar and show off your cufflinks kind of dram”

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