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The Single Cask Helps Whisky Drinkers Match Scotch To Their Mood

Independent bottlers The Single Cask have introduced an innovative new five category system that helps drinkers match their whisky to their mood . Photo credit: Mike Wilkinson

Independent bottlers The Single Cask have introduced an innovative new system that helps drinkers select a scotch to match their mood. There can sometimes feel like a bewildering cross-section of flavors and profiles to choose from, especially for newcomers to the single cask experience. The Single Cask has designated five categories to give drinkers an easy way to select the right scotch for the moment.

Single malt scotch can sometimes seem intimidating and when you are looking at single cask bottlings from independent bottlers that only intensifies. When you’re looking at a vast array of profiles and nuanced tasting notes it can feel easier to give up and head back to the standard releases from the big brands. Unfortunately that means that many drinkers are missing out on the nuanced experiences to be had drinking single cask releases.

Single Cask Versus Single Malt

The whiskies that most of us are familiar with from the big brands are actually what’s called a “vatting”. Consumers expect a uniform taste whenever they open a familiar brand and that’s created by the distillery or brand’s master blender who will combine or “vat” multiple casks within the parameters of the particular release.

In Scotland if you’re labeling something single malt from a specific distillery it all has to be single malt whisky made at one distillery with malted barley and matured for a minimum of three years. The other limitations are based on what the master blender is creating. For example, if there is an age statement then the whiskies must be that age or older, or if there is a particular cask finish type that needs to be adhered to as well.

Single Cask releases are the opposite; so they are just one cask, showing a snapshot of how that particular whisky has matured in that cask over that time frame. They are more difficult to get right, and by their nature highly limited releases, and so for the larger brands single cask releases are very rare in today’s market.

What single cask releases do is provide keen whisky/whiskey fans with a way to taste something a bit more “raw” from their favorite distilleries. But by their nature there is a lot more variation in what you can get. Even for experienced single casks drinkers the vast array of profiles can be intimidating without recommendations from reviewers, and for newcomers that can be a real barrier to entry. This is what independent bottler The Single Cask have looked to overcome with their five categories.

The Single Cask’s Helen Stewart and Jan Damen, General Manager at The Single Cask, have assigned five categories to help drinkers select the right cask for the moment. Photo Credit: Mike Wilkinson

Picking The Right Dram For The Moment

“The Single Cask’s fresh perspective builds on the natural inclination to describe whisky in terms of its character and personality. Much like having a flavor compass, whisky lovers use five categories to direct to whichever whiskies they are in the mood for. It also helps whisky drinkers to understand that, for example, not all peated whiskies are bold and overpowering – some can be very mellow and easy-going,” explains The Single Cask in the official press release.

They have assigned five categories to encompass the different characters available in whiskies. Drinkers then use those to select the right one for the moment or palate without having to dissect confusing (and subjective) tasting notes.

“At The Single Cask, we believe the overall ‘charisma’ of a dram is more important than its individual flavors,” explains Helen Stewart, Brand Marketing Manager for The Single Cask. “When we picture whiskies as personalities, they become easy to relate to. We can instantly identify with the mood of the whisky. That ability to move and connect people, to make us feel alive in ways unimaginable and open our minds to new experiences.”

Stewart alongside Whisky Sensory Expert Kami Newton chose the five categories: Cheerful, Playful, Bold, Curious and Easy-going. Each cask bottled by the independent bottlers are assigned a category by a panel of experts, known as Taste Masters.

The Five Categories

The five categories chosen by The Single Cask to help drinkers select the right offering for them are:

Cheerful: well-mannered, joyful, effortless, and dependable crowd-pleasers that suit any occasion.

Playful: whiskies that bounce around your nose and mouth, full of life, vigor, enthusiasm and excitement.

Bold: for seekers of big, powerful, and strong whiskies – with assertive, rich and deep characters.

Curious: whiskies with unusual characters that break the rules of whisky flavor. They represent the surprising, uncommon, oddball whiskies that are the hidden treasure for die-hard fans.

Easy-going: laid back, and mellow drams for when you’re in the mood to simply unwind and relax

“One of the biggest challenges with flavor is that it’s a different experience from one person to the next,” explains Kami Newton in the official press release. “For example, to some people coriander tastes like a delicious, fragrant herb. But others have a genetic variation that makes coriander taste like disgusting soap. Add to this flavors that are culturally specific and the challenge of pigeonholing whisky by flavor becomes clear. The five mood method takes a whole new approach that is less confusing and creates an emotional connection with whisky drinkers.”

In today’s scotch market where official releases from big brands can seem increasingly focused on the aesthetics it’s refreshing to see new releases that are focusing on drinkers and consuming whisky. In the secondary market drinkers are increasingly looking toward independent bottlings as a cost effective way to drink vintage whiskies from their favorite distilleries at a more reasonable price. The cost saving can also be true with modern releases so things that make this sector more accessible are always welcome.

Hannah Thompson

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