Look Who’s Drinking Whisky
There’s a perception that women whisky drinkers don’t like Islay whisky. At Tipple and Dram @ Ann Siang Road, Singapore, we know that perception isn’t reality.
Islay––one of the southernmost of the Inner Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland––is the home of peaty malts. Smoky and dark, some may think these won’t appeal to the ladies. After all, they’re too gritty, too strong, and too masculine. Not true—there are also beautiful, gentle whiskies distilled here with the right hint of peat and smoke; rich with many alluring scents and characteristics that will make your palate sing.
The MaltmanSG decided to figure out what is myth and what is reality regarding these commonly held beliefs.
Islay whisky is inherently smoky and peaty upon first glance. However, we cannot just focus upon one part of the story. The wood used to mature the whisky in terms of length and type contributes a great deal, between 50 to 70%, of the whisky flavor and taste profile.
For example, the oak casks from America used to mature whiskeys typically give tinges of vanilla, caramel, toffee as the wood releases vanillin and the sugar compounds stored insid. However, Spanish oak casks, used in sherry production, lend to a flavor dynamic that is very smooth, rich, sweet, and fruity. This is not only due to the compounds in the wood, but also because of the remnants of sherry in the cask.
And if the whisky is made to mature in the scarce Mizunara casks from Japan, then you’ll see a myriad of flavours. This is mainly on account of the acute porosity coupled with a high concentration of various compounds including vanillins in the Mizunara wood, which makes it one of the most flavourful wood to mature whisky.
The balance 30% to 50% of the flavour derives from the size of the cask, the type of fuel used to dry the barley in the malting process (hot air, peat fuel or unpeated fuel), location of the distillery, type of warehouse, climatic conditions, and the type of distillation process used.
Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, and Bruichladdic—three well known Islay distilleries—have been known to come out even with unpeated variants with the master distiller shaping the flavour profiles of their creations to be rich, creamy, or fruity with lot of berries and floral hues. Lagavulin and Ardbeg have been known to experiment with sherry treated casks or Caribbean rum casks that dilute pungent smoky taste to make for a balanced and easy to drink malt.
Hence, an Islay whisky can also have fruity, spicy, and well rounded delicate flavour profiles depending upon the chemistry of these factors. On the other hand, we have had whiskies from Speyside, Islands and Highlands from Glenfiddich, Tomintoul, Balvenie, Glen Moray, Talisker, Benromach, Tobermory, Glen Garioch, and Benriach, amongst others, where the distilleries have experimented in producing peaty variants.
The staff at Tipple and Dram further elaborated this point and urged the MaltmanSG to try one of their signature whiskeys tasting flights which were designed especially for women. Become one of The Wise Women of Islay as you undertake a journey through these special malts.
The tasting flight comprised of Bunnahabhain 25, Bruichladdich Valinch, and Bowmore hand-filled sherry cask with rich undertones of Christmas cake.
These whiskies have acquired a complexity that is always interesting to explore. As you sip your drink, you might catch a surprising note of buttery toffee and polished leather; or plum wine, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom; or fresh herbs and summer fruit. You may taste the spicy and tangy citrus notes as the smoke swirls mellowing the moment. Perhaps even the sweetness of raisins and chestnuts along with the subtle peat. An array of tastes and bouquets awaits you.
There’s no hurry though. The aroma won’t escape if you tarried a bit…it’ll wait for you. While you chat with your friends and ponder issues weighty and light, try the scrumptious food on our menu, tap your foot to the music, and get down to having a really good time. Above all, debunk the myth by proving Islay whisky is liked equally by women too!