I recently received my latest purchase, a 15y Linkwood single malt, oloroso sherry aged (Lloyd Whisky Syndicate No.12) and the time has come to taste it. Obviously such a pedigreed spirit must be approached with due respect and I have high expectations.
But before I get started here’s a thought about appreciating whisky (or any other spirit for that matter).
I should preface that I am not endowed with particularly sharp senses of smell and taste, so when attending whisky tastings I have always marvelled at those lucky ones who could pick out just about every aroma or flavour that ever existed in an apothecary’s cupboard. I used to be quite envious and I admit to feeling somewhat diminished because I never could quite catch that whiff of licourice or that soupçon of birchleaf pear.
But here’s my point.
By way of analogy, to appreciate Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night should one have to count the number of stars and brightly lit windows or notice the thickness of the brush strokes or identify the green shades of the trees? I think not.
For me it is a matter of reason vs emotion. Just as I do not need to count the stars in the sky in VVG’s masterpiece for it to convey to me a powerful emotion so I do not need to identify all the components of the aroma and the flavour of a good whisky for it to cause me a sensation. So in my very personal whisky tasting scale of values emotion comes first and foremost; reason, or the perception of the factors causing that emotion, will follow.
Having made my point, enough philosophising. There is important work to attend to.
The first characteristic of this Linkwood 15y that strikes me is its rich mahogany colour. I love it. It makes other excellent bourbon aged whiskies in my collection look anaemic, almost medicinal. I pour myself a dram and inhale the aroma: I can actually identify a pleasing note of leather and perhaps some cocoa. I then decide to take a sip and not focus on the details. I will just let the spirit impress me… or not: and it certainly does. A few more sips. I conclude that the adjective that best describes this whisky is “sumptuous”.