They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

What Makes A Good Whisky

You can find a lot of comparisons and quite a few similarities between breweries and distilleries these days. It's not just brewers who compete with each other for titles... For instance, lots of breweries like to make beers as strong as possible. Some distillers like to make whisky as strong as possible. Some breweries like to make a beer with the most IBUs in the world. Some distillers like to produce the most heavily peated whiskies in the world. Some breweries and distillers like to produce the world's most expensive beers and whiskies... the list goes on, but there is something you can take from this.

When it comes to asking the question of what makes a good whisky the answer is always going to be one which is based on a personal level. One persons good Scotch might not fit into another persons good Scotch; for instance, I really don't like Laphroaig, but I know plenty of people that do.

Just as "what is craft beer" is seen to be answered on a personal level by most people, what makes a good whisky is also going to be answered on a personal level. I do have a good rule of thumb (which I stole off Zak) when it comes to identifying a good beer though. It all comes down to drinkability for me. If it's going to be a good beer it has to be a beer which delivers the second time round. How many times have you told yourself; "It's good, but not as good as the first time I had it..." I know I have many times. Maybe this is to do with us big-ing the beer up in our heads or maybe it's not.

I think the mark of a really good whisky is one that you want to come back to time and time again.

Sure you can get a whisky which is stupidly strong, or ridiculously flavour packed, and while these might be very 'good' whiskies, I've never really been that drawn to them, and I certainly only drink them here and there. It's pretty difficult to be impartial though and actually identify the difference between a good whisky and a whisky I just really like. This is where I think the drinkability comes back into it. This is still a personal opinion, but I think a whisky which you can have a few drams of without it destroying your throat or making you hit the floor is a much better whisky.

It's very often that the entry level whiskies from distilleries are the ones I most favour. Look toward Edradour 10yr, Highland Park 12yr. Bowmore 12yr and Ardbeg 10yr. Calling them the standard whiskies that the distilleries make would be doing them a great diservice, because they're anything but 'standard', but these are the whiskies I often go for.

Don't get me wrong I do love my crazy whiskies. The pictures I've added alongside here are deliberately whiskies I wouldn't drink much of, but that's not to say I wouldn't appreciate them, not at all. The thing is though, it's always the entry level whiskies I find myself coming back to, because of their drinkability, and I think it's that that makes them good whiskies.

Speaking of good whisky, I thought this was a fantastic (but a little expensive) idea!


  1. And of course whisky is basically distilled beer, although distillers are rather coy about admitting that.

    I'm with you on Highland Park, but I tend to find the peatier Islay whiskies are ones I respect but wouldn't like to have more than one of - just like some mega-hoppy beers.

  2. Yeah, I would pretty much agree with all of that. Could do with getting some Edradour in the house.

  3. Obviously, I am totally agree with you. The idea you have suggested to make a good whiskey is really new for me.

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