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5 Factors That Make What Is A Good Whiskey

Although taste is subjective, there are some characteristics that distinguish the best whiskey from the average. Quality, complexity of flavor ingredients, distilling techniques smoothness, ageing, and many more contribute to the making of whiskey “good”. In the end, the solution to “what is an excellent whiskey” is one that you enjoy drinking and like.

Let’s look at the various factors that make one sip of whiskey an enjoyable drinking experience. After you’ve learned about the process of making whiskey you’ll be an expert on the subject of, “what is a good whiskey?”

Flavor Complexities

The complexity of flavor in whiskey is what differentiates it from a quality whiskey. It is a whiskey that you can like on its own or mixed with water, and also a whiskey you prefer to drink in cocktails.

A whiskey that has a lot of depth could be mixed in a cocktail, obviously, but you’d be missing out on the subtleties of taste that have been meticulously created in every batch.

There are many factors that influence the taste profile of a excellent whiskey.

Which are the flavour families that make up whiskey?

There are eight flavor families of whiskey that are broken down into their own subcategories. Knowing the names of these families can aid in identifying the subtleties in a whiskey. These are the families and their subcategories.

Fruity – Cooked Fruit, Dried Fruit, Fresh Fruit, Citric
Winey – Oily, Nutsy Chocolate, Sherries
Sulphuric – Sandy- Vegetative, Coal/Gas, rubbery
Peaty Kippery Mossy, Smokey, Medicinal;
Cereal – Yeasty, Cooked Mash, Husky, Malt Extract
Woody Woody Vanilla, Old Wood, New Wood, Toasted
Floral – Leafy- Hay-like, Green House, Fragrant
Feinty – Sweaty, Tobacco, Plastic and leathery

Some of these flavours don’t sound like they could be great by themselves, but you’ll be amazed at how odd flavors blend together to make a tasty whiskey.

It’s also normal to begin with whiskeys with more of a fruity flavor or to stay away from stronger-flavored whiskeys. If you are trying to figure the best whiskey, try various flavor profiles however, as with all whiskeys it’s all about what you enjoy!

“The Devil is in the Grains” – Definiting the Flavor Profile

Although the above flavors are notes that are found in whiskey, they aren’t the primary ingredients in the production of whiskey. Whiskey is made by the fermentation of grain mash which is malted or not.

Malting grain is a process which involves soaking the grain and then allowed to grow. This results in maltose, which is which is a sugar. It adds a richness comparable to chocolate or butter to the overall taste of the.

Sometimes, the distinction between a quality whiskey and what’s not is in the grain. Additionally, different proportions of grains can create distinct flavors.

The grains that are that are used to make whiskey are as follows:


Barley is mostly used for Scotch whisky, and packs quite an impact. Barley is usually malted and dried using peat. The flavor of whisky made from barley is usually diminished by its ageing in old port wine or sherry barrels. This adds spices and fruit notes to the natural earthy smoky flavor of Scotch.


Rye provides a rich sweet, nutty, and spicy taste to whisky. Rye can be used by itself to make Rye whiskey, but it is only able to be referred to as such when it has been matured within American oak barrels, and has 51 percent Rye mash.

Rye can be mixed with other grains to make various whiskey types such as bourbon, for instance.


Wheat whiskeys are largely made by the United States. They are popular because they are soft and sweet.

Wheat whiskeys are distinguished by the flavor notes of vanilla, toffee, and honey. Although they were more scarce but they are now increasing in popularity due to their sweet, smooth, and sweet characteristics.


Corn is the primary component in Bourbon whiskey. To qualify as Bourbon it must be produced in America and contain at minimum 51 percent corn Mash.

It’s another drinkable ingredient that gives flavors of cream, honey, and even marshmallow that has been toasted.

Certain whiskeys are made from different blends of these grains in various ratios, while some have only one grain, and others contain all four! Be aware of the taste you wish to taste in your mind. Also, when you are choosing a whiskey, be aware of the grains the whiskey is made from.

Barrels of different types and the imparting of Flavor

When it comes time to answer to the query “What is a great whisky?”, the barrels where whiskey is aged are an integral part of the discussion. The barrels whiskey is maturing in are crucial in giving the flavor. The majority of whiskey barrels are made of oak and contain oils that soak into the liquid while it sits.

Sometimes whiskey, specifically Bourbon – is matured in brand new barrels, and occasionally the barrels it’s aging in were originally used to store something else. That other thing is what makes the whiskey unique in flavor once it is ready to be bottle-bottled.

New Oak Barrels

The new, unseasoned oak barrels are those that aren’t yet used to store any spirits. This is why the flavor of the wood itself is more prominent in whiskey. The new oak barrels are used to mature Bourbon.

Ex-Bourbon Barrels

Once the barrel is utilized to mature a Bourbon and is then used to age other whiskeys, such as Scotch. The barrels impart an aroma of fruit, similar to the Bourbon that was distilled from them, and also vanillic tastes.

Ex-Port Barrels

Barrels used to store port wine have flavor that was inherent to the wine they were held in typically, they are dried fruit flavors such as raisins or figs. Based on the port, the flavor will alter.

Ex-Sherry Barrels

Sherry barrels also impart a dried fruit taste like those found in ports wine barrels. Sherry is known to have more of a dry flavor than port, which means that the whiskey that is aged in these barrels will also be drier in taste.

This isn’t a complete listing of the different types of barrels used for aging whiskey, but you’ll can get an idea.

The spirit that the barrel previously contained will give its own distinctive flavor to the final whiskey.

Aging Whiskey and its Impact on Whiskey’s Flavor?

We’ve learned about the different types of barrels used to age whiskey. Let’s take a an examination of the actual process of aging. Does the process of aging be the main factor in determining what makes an excellent whiskey?

There is a belief that the more matured whiskey is, the higher quality it is. Certainly, whiskeys that have been matured for a prolonged period tend to be more expensive than those that have not been. It’s not always a sign of an improved quality, however.

As the barrel ages the temperature of the barrel of oak changes. The wood begins to contract and expand, introducing oxygen into the spirit.

It can also add different flavors to the whiskey. If the whiskey is stored in oak barrels that have been charred the charring acts as a filter that eliminates the alcohol’s harsh flavor. As time passes, the color turns gold and then develops into a smoky, caramel-colored body.