Imagine in your (smell) mind, a scale of smokiness running from the gentle, mild, balsamic aroma of peat smoke from a croft chimney, sniffed some distance downwind, right across to the other end of the scale in which we have acrid, pungent smoke of the type that you would find in many fires. Now you have a feel for the huge range of smoky odours and all of them can be found in whiskies. (You might like to continue your imaginary exercise and imagine another scale running at right-angles to the smoky scale, and labelled from weak to strong. You then imagine various types of smoky aromas – burning tyres, fish smoke-houses, burning pine logs, incense sticks, roasting smoky cocoa beans and many others – at various positions on this smoke aroma map.) The smoky aroma dimension alone allows us to easily differentiate the powerful smoky Single Malt Scotch Whiskies such as Ardbeg, Talisker and Laphroaig from the majority of Single Malts. We suspect, but cannot prove at the moment, that there is an aroma learning curve with Whisky smoky aromas. Just as with some celebrated gourmet foods, including truffles, caviar and cheeses where such aroma learning is found, with the typical pattern of first liking a mild aroma in the characteristic flavour and then gradually progressing to stronger aroma effects as your smell brain becomes used to the special aroma sensation. So you may find at first that you do not take to the more strongly smoked Single Malt Scotch Whiskies but then may find that you gradually train your sense of smell so that eventually only strongly smoky Malts will satisfy!
There are several types of aroma molecules involved in the complex families of smokes and the one we select in our Whisky Aroma Kit is in fact related to the other Aromas from the “phenol family” found in the Kit. If we take many of the celebrated Whisky phenol molecules and insert an extra oxygen moiety to the ring we find that the phenol now has a smoky quality in addition to the phenolic aroma qualities. Furthermore, as we gently change the shape of this type of molecule we can subtly alter the ratio of “smoking to typical phenolic-antiseptic” – and so we can generate a wide spectrum of smoky notes. With the help of the Whisky Aroma Kit, devotees who adore smoky notes can become expert in this important Whisky Aroma category.
See our Whisky Aroma Kit for more information.