VCL Vintners

Flavours of whisky

The wizarding world of whisky is getting more and more popular day by day and it is not just a drink for the elite anymore. A lot of people around you who are legally old enough to drink have tasted whisky in some kind of way, but therein also lies the pitfall.


People base their opinion about whisky on that particular glass, and will like or dislike whisky depending on which whisky they choose. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not here to convince you that you should enjoy whisky the way we do, but we’re trying to tell you that there is a lot more to discover.

The first step is to know what you are drinking, you see, not every ‘whisky’ is, by definition, whisky. It comes in all shapes and sizes and some are more famous than others. Scotch might be the most popular one, but they’re making whisky, whiskey, bourbon and so on, all over the world, but we might come back to that some other time.

We’re here to explain that each whisky, whiskey, bourbon (and the numerous individual variations of each) has its own character, taste and flavour. To keep it just a little bit more simple, today wed like to talk about a few scents and flavours which youll often find in whisky and well give some examples where you will find these particular tasting notes in. Here we go:

Light and Delicate

Oban 14 Yo

Oban 14yo is a wonderful example of whisky that’s easy to drink, but has enough oomph to keep you satisfied. The coastal highland character is defined by freshness with a sweet arrange of soft fruits. And as a little bonus, you’ll get a delicate coastal brininess which leaves you craving for another dram.


Fruity, creamy and somewhat waxy, with papaya, mango and pineapple. It’s also slightly peaty, which reveals itself through some very faint dry tobacco aromas.


The palate can be a little bit watery, but through that we find spicy wood, tobacco leaves, ginger and some tropical fruits.


Candle wax and yoghurt with peaches. The papaya and pineapple are here too. It fades into a very delicate feeling of saltiness.

Creamy and Fruity

Arran 10yo

If you say creamy and fruity, we’ll always say Arran. The tropical and rich character of this distillery is an absolute original. Once you’ve had your first Arran whisky, you will always link the tropical tasting notes in other drams back to this one. This is a one of a kind dram and certainly a benchmark for thousands of whiskies all over the world. This Arran 10 years old in particular can be enjoyed all year long and really is a bang for your buck!


Old newspapers, cinnamon, moist wood and canned pineapple. Sidewalk chalk, aniseed and a little bit of Sangria. Pine needles and coconut in the background.


A whirlwind of tropical flavours, warming notes of cakes and cookies right from the oven, citrus and old oak.


A medium to long finish, very warming with notes of hay, peaches and fruitcake. Lemon zest, winter spices, vanilla and dill in the end.

Arran 10


Aberlour A’bunadh

Throw yourself into a whirlpool of sherried goodness with Aberlour’s Cask Strength expression called A’bunadh. This cask strength single malt which has fully matured on Oloroso sherry casks. A strong and luscious experience with red and dried fruits written all over it. A dash of water softens the mouthfeel and brings out even more flavours, so don’t be afraid to add that.


Apricot pie, drying wood, summer fruits, vanilla, raisins, cinnamon, candy cane and a touch of citrus.


Dry, woody, vanilla, red fruits, warming spices, dried apricots, cherry jam and orchard fruits.


Drying wood, yellow fruits, blueberries, more apricot pie, yellow soaked raisins and vanilla. An aftertaste of cinnamon and orange zest.

*Varies between batches

Dark and Spicy

Deanston Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured

Wine cask maturations offer really something else in terms of flavour. Depending on the distillery and casks, it could work out very well. And sometimes it won’t, but one of the good examples is this Deanston. Again, add a few drops of water and you’re in for a treat. The notes of dark chocolate, winter spices and lots of red fruits are indicative of the presence of red wine casks. And if you combine those with peat, you’re often treated with a whiff of gunpowder. This example however, has no peat, but remember that for your next wine and peat infused dram!


Cooking fruits, warm apples, red fruits, spicy wood and cracked pepper.


Warming and full, dry and fruity. A fair amount of red fruits and redcurrants.


A wonderful dry finish, with dark aromas of red fruits, raisins and redcurrants. But also lighter notes of vanilla, apple and ginger. Spices like nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon continue as the fruity flavours die off.

Peaty and Smokey

Big Peat

If you are looking for peat, why not go for BIG peat? Many people are paddling in the pool of peat, but with this one you’re taking a big dive. It is a great introduction because of the smooth but strong character, and it gives a wonderful representation of what peat should taste like, without overshadowing other incredible flavours. It often goes for a fair price as well, so this might be a perfect dram to dip into!


At first, a hint of garlic and salmon from the day before, but then, a bright bouquet of tropical fruits, stewed pears, mango, papaya, popsicles, jelly beans and fried bananas. The rough side also shines through: solder, iron, whole wheat, salt and lemons.


Motor oil, licorice, sulphur, salt and minerals. Barley, metals, copper, stout, espresso, ham and pineapple. Some oriental spices are in there as well.


Very ashy and kinda rough, hints of copper, sea salt and sulphur. Peated barley, wet ropes, tar charred meat and buttered popcorn. Dry, salmon fillet, grilled pineapple, curry, cardamom and turmeric to top it off.

You see, whisky is so much more than that one particular dram youve tasted years ago. It offers millions of scents and flavours in thousands of drams worldwide. You simply can not like or dislike whisky depending on a dram or two. It is up to you to find your favourites. Visit some tastings, buy a few bottles if your budget lets you and you will discover what kind of magic whisky holds. If you still dislike whisky in the end, no hard feelings, it isnt everybodys cup of tea. or shot of whisky if you like.


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