No one can deny whisky’s worldwide popularity, but you have to wonder how it got to this point. Is it whisky’s unique aromas and flavours, or is it something more like a mystique? The answer lies a bit in between those two aspects. For many enthusiasts of spirits and liqueurs, whisky is arguably the most effortless and most pleasurable to drink. Still, some aficionados swear by whisky mainly for the smooth drinking experience, which begs the question: what’s the smoothest whisky you can enjoy?
Whisky’s unique flavour profile
Depending on which part of the world it’s from, whisky can vary widely as far as the tasting profile. Some whisky made in Europe tend to lean more towards the smoky, vanilla side, whilst whisky made in America and Canada will usually have a sweeter complexion, especially if it’s an authentic bourbon whisky. Other tasting notes you might notice include tobacco, leather, oak, and maybe a bit of spiciness to tie it all off.
Interestingly, you’d assume that those strong notes make the whisky harsh on the palette, but that’s not the case! If you find a premium selection like a single cask whisky, the first sip will go down remarkably smooth for a distilled spirit, and that’s why they’re popular among those who value the quality of the craftsmanship. Indeed, liquor makers work hard to ensure the final product is smooth and without byproducts that can mask the natural taste.
What to look for in a smooth whisky
Having said that, the next question is, what do you look for in a smooth whisky? Curiously, the answer depends on which part of the world the liquor originates and the thoroughness of the distillation process, but other notable qualities include the colour and the age of the whisky.
Colour-wise, a smooth whisky has an amber, golden hue typically. If whisky is deep, dark brown, get ready for a punch in the mouth because that’s usually an indication that the whisky is more complex. The exception to that rule of thumb is that Canadian whisky can still be smooth but appear more on the light brown side. Indeed, colour isn’t a perfect indiction, but it puts you close enough to choose a brand.
Another fair indication of a whisky’s smoothness is ageing. A liquor connoisseur worth the title will never recommend a young Scotch whisky to a beginner because the bold, smoky taste can be off-putting at first sip. As an alternative, they might steer this brave newbie towards aged Scotch whisky because they are smoother and easier to drink straight away.
Ideally, you want a liquor like an aged single-cask batch because the makers cared to craft the spirit from day one. It’s even better to find a whisky with proper ageing to bring out the subtle tasting notes and give the liquor a pleasant aroma so that a younger liquor will be harsher by definition.
There are a few more technicalities to consider, yet if you choose based on the colour and ageing, it’s a fair hint as to how smooth the whisky will be on the palette.