This Is What Happens When You Taste Whisky With A Cold
I probably don’t have to explain to anyone that having a cold massively influences the way you taste things. In some cases you don’t taste anything at all. It makes every whisky taste generic. Recently I experienced that first hand and I thought it be fun to share what happened…
First off, I didn’t plan this post. It’s not like I was waiting for a cold to strike just so I could show you how I experienced a whisky both with and without one. Nope. This is what happened.
I’m currently participating in a blind tasting of the Dutch Whisky Forum, and the deadline for the first sample was approaching fast, but I was nurturing an annoying cold. I felt a bit better and my nose was clearing, so I decided to go for it and sent in my notes, but with a disclaimer that I was coming back from a cold. Here they are.
Nose: At first gluey and sour. A little handwarming helps to drive this away. Some fruit appears. Melon, pineapple. Also coconut. The nose is a bit grainy and shows some oak, or saw dust. After a couple of minutes I get a cheesy quality.
Taste: Spicy, black pepper and bitter. Not a lot of positive notes here.
Finish: Sour and short.
Not long after sending my notes to the moderator (Matti, read his blog here), he replied with the following: “You might not like this whisky, but I think based on the average score of the other contestants that your taste buds aren’t quite there yet.” Turns out my rating was a lot lower than everyone else’s.
After the reveal I learned that what I had tasted was actually a Craigellachie 19yo, a new travel retail exclusive that I’ve been anticipating to try. Firstly because I like what I’ve tasted of Craigellachie so far, secondly because I had heard good things about it from people who already got to try it. My cold has now passed, and since the sample was 5cl I still had enough left for a second tasting. Here are my new, improved and cold-free notes. With another disclaimer: unlike the first time, I didn’t taste this blind.
Craigellachie 19yo (46%, OB, Travel Retail Exclusive)
Nose: Candlewax and a bit zesty, coastal spray maybe. Some very subtle white pepper and salted crackers. Then fruit. Mostly yellow with banana and pineapple, but also a hint of orange and grapes. This Craigellachie also has an oaky quality, accompanied by malt, hay and grain.
Taste: An explosion of tangerines, lemon and grapefruit. Bitter and tangy. The mouthfeel is lovely creamy, but there is also a lot of wood present.
Finish: Lemon, oaky and a sour bitterness. Not the best aspect of this whisky.
It lacks a little bit of balance and depth to receive a higher score, but is pleasant nonetheless. Very reminiscent of Clynelish, especially the nose. Turns out I quite like this whisky when my sinuses are cleared. It made a massive difference.
Photo: Flickr/Allan Foster (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.