Reviewing Whisky Classified

‘Whisky Classified’ throws a new light on single malt appreciation. Thanks to author David Wishart who removes the confusing jargon so often used to describe single malt, and reveals an easy-to-apply guide to tasting.

About the author

The author of the book, Scott David Wishart, had actually taken a tour of all the distilleries mentioned before penning this book. The initial edition came out in 1998, followed by a draft version in February 2000. Come April 2000, and Whisky Classified first saw the light of the day.

As the story unfolds

In this book, Wishart showcases a new way to identify various single malts through their flavour profiles. So we can identify twelve dimensions to the aroma and taste of a single malt whisky such as body, sweetness, smoky, medicinal, tobacco, honey, spicy, winey, nutty, malty, fruity and floral. Now these twelve quintessential features engulf 400 whisky terms found in around 1000 published tasting notes. With a comprehensive coverage of all the distilleries of Scotland, this book throws light on all the principal malt whiskies that range in this flavour spectrum. It has a short description of each distillery, information which visitors might find useful, tasting notes and flavour profiles according to the author’s innovative classification. One can read the intricate explanation of the history of whisky-making and production methods, and Wishart also reveals methods in the art of whisky-tasting. Never before has the consumer been offered such an insightful description of single malt whiskies, which was developed with the full cooperation of the Scotch whisky industry. So, ‘Whisky Classified’ is for all whisky drinkers alike-- from a novice to a connoisseur.

Single malt whiskies have been conventionally classified by region - Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. Even if you know where they are made, you won’t be able to understand how they should taste. For instance, not all Islay malts taste like a classic, smoky Islay. Some Speyside whiskies are light and delicate while others are rich and fruity.  We come to know certain demographic facts like there being only three distilleries operating in the Lowland region, all of which are nearly 100 miles apart. The Highland region ranges from Glengoyne to Highland Park, 300 miles apart, separated by both distance and flavour.

While assessing the quality of single malt whiskies, some experts often look for depth, balance, layered complexity and length of finish, criterias that are very personal to them.  But for some the tastes might be different, the preference might be lightly peated, fruity and fresh malt whiskies. In fact the best-selling malt whiskies are generally not rated very highly by the experts. So you might want to read up this book to have an idea on how to do blind tastings and judge for yourself.  Whisky Classified tries to help the newcomer navigate through the maze of single malt whiskies available in the off-licence, liquor store and supermarket.  So if you prefer a particular malt whisky, then it tells you what other brands taste similar.  Again if you want to diversify or expand your collection, it helps you choose a range of malts that taste different. So in a way, this book is an all-encompassing experience that contributes much in making a normal reader understand the various nuances of single malt whisky.