Whisky by Flavour - Mouthfeel - Smooth

The mouthfeel of a whisky is one of the first parts of the tasting process which we identify, our palate is secondary, to our nose, in the strength of connection to our brains for identifying aromas and flavours. The taste receptors (taste buds) link to the olfactory senses in our brain to identify flavours we have encountered before, and this is where mouthfeel comes into play, there are some differences in textures created in the whisky which give different impressions while in our mouths, however, these also react with the esters, distillation process and alcohol to water ratio. Each of these creates combinations between textures and flavours. Therefore, mouthfeel can be classed as a flavour because it enhances and develops flavours from other aspects of production whilst creating impressions in the olfactory senses in our brains.

A smooth mouthfeel can be found as a result of three areas of the production of whisky, the alcohol percentage is the first clue, whisky is bottled from 40% to 65 – 70% ABV the majority of the rest of the liquid is water with a fraction of esters. Alcohol’s structure is vastly different to water, it is a dense, drying texture, whereas water will expand flavours creating a smooth, light texture.

The next source of a smooth mouthfeel is the impact of the Oak cask, when the whisky reacts during maturation, especially in American Oak casks, often with a previous Bourbon fill, which has a lower level of tannin will provide vanillin which gives the flavour of vanilla and a creamy smooth flavour. This interaction is greater with a Virgin Oak or first fill cask as there is greater interaction between the wood and the whisky. However, there will also be flavours of spice and oak, therefore a whisky matured for an average time of 10 – 18 years will have taken the key flavours but maturation will mellow the sharper notes. Lastly, the esters created during the fermentation process will create flavours in the final whisky and often honey or light fruits can be identified in the new make spirit and this will also help to develop into a balanced whisky with a smooth mouthfeel.

Enjoyed this flavour? The following whiskies all share this flavour profile.....

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