Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

All styles of whiskey. This is for all-grain mashes.

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Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:52 pm

For anyone new to Single Malts, it may come as a surprise that there is a regional diversity to them, that we "malt heads" in the hobby try to capture. All single malts follow a few basic rules that define them as an independent spirit style, but there are regional differences that set a style standard that defines them individually. There are always excretions to any "rule" however the general concept of what a region offers, as a taste distinction, can be defined, and I'll attempt to do that here. The taste comments come from the tasters of "Whisky Magazine" you can freely disagree, I think trying to "capture" all of the quantities of a whisky in a few words, is similar to trying to catch a bull in a butterfly net...but I've got to start somewhere. Understand these are a very "loose" definitions and the 80/20 rule applies...80% may fall into a regional description 20% cross over into the others.
Single Malts from Scotland, fall into the six regions where they are produced, these are... Lowland, Campbeltown, Highland, The Islands, Speyside, and Islay.

Lowland Single Malts...Grass, honeysuckle, cream, toffee, toast.
As a style a Lowlander appeals to drinkers who don't like a heavy, peat smoked, malty and oaky whisky. They are light in color and taste. My take :- Very Pale malts, (if you cut the pale malts that are available to us, back with white or corn sugar by say 20%, you want hurt your attempt to make this style. Ale yeasts with low/no ester profile. They are cut early with a fair amount of late heads and very little tails, and a short time on low toasted oak.

Campbeltown...Brine, smoke, dried fruit, vanilla, toffee, wet dog.
Between lowland and Highland styles, this was at one time the most popular style but as fallen away dramatically since WW2, a lot of the distilleries have closed. My take :-You can see from the description, cuts that go deep into the tails, good % smoked malt, yeast with a moderate ester profile and aged on charred oak.

Highland...fruit cake, malt, oak, heather, dried fruit, peat smoke.
Lots of malt character and peat smoke with late tails and careful hearts cuts. My take :- You can use darker malts and/or a little toasted malt with a good deep taste and a high % of peat smoke to duplicate this style. Good yeast with a lot of ester character - Scotch ale type, and heavily charred oak.

The Islands...smoke, brine, oil, black pepper.
Not as heavy or as "deep" as the Highlands but with a strong ocean influence. My take :- yeast with a moderate ester, peat smoke not over powering but there, cuts that take the late heads and early tails and aged on moderately toasted oak.

Speyside...apple, vanilla, oak, nutmeg, dried fruit, malt, cinnamon, sherry.
Although Speyside is in the Highland Area it is a totally different region. The most famous brands in the world are found here. There is a massive range of whisky and tastes in the Speysides. My take :- From low ester yeast to high, low kilned malt to high, dark to pale, heavily oaked to sherry wood finished...Speyside has it all.

Islay...Seaweed, Brine, carbolic/medicine like, heavy peat reek, smoked fish.
(Pronounced eye-lay) Although Islay is an Island off the coast of Scotland, it's a distinct region of it's own. I've heard it's whisky's described as "a taste depth charge" and I agree. People either love it or hate it. My take :- I would add to the description by saying "Spicey" like clove and licorice. On a scale of 1 to 10 on being able to reproduce this at the hobby level, I have to say it's a 15 plus...I've never come close. I would love to be able to make something that closely resembled this style...but again, never come close.

So there they are, how the tasters from "Whisky Magazine" define the six Scotch regions by taste, and my a very "loose" and brief description of where to start, at the hobby level, to get there.

Hope you enjoy...Kiwi
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:53 am

F'n awesome. Thank you

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by Single Malt Yinzer » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:07 am

Good post for the Wiki: https://homedistiller.org/wiki/index.php/Scotch_whisky" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Thanks Bruce! I still am working on briny/seaweed flavors. No idea how to reproduce them. The folklore is because they are matured near the ocean. I don't quite believe that.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by Wild Bill » Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:43 am

I tend to believe those flavors of salt and seaweed are a product of the regional peat used in the malting of the barley. Probably have to mine some islay peat to accurately reproduce those flavors. We are at the mercy of whatever peat they use when we buy peated malt. I would also like to reproduce this style. I have come up with some very drinkable product but is still a long ways from the islay scotches I am aiming for. I think I may try and get some lighter peated malt and try and cold smoke it a bit more over a semi dried seaweed fire. Anybody tried this?
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:58 pm

Last week der wo posted a very interesting thread on how the Scotch single malt industry, as of around 2000, is no longer going to use "syrups" in it's product. So they have been as esoteric as the Run industry and there Dunder pits. And it would appear that they are policing themselves...isn't that special!
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=70372
Here is what hit me...
kiwi Bruce wrote:The mental lighting bolt...
It's a case of Occam's razor...it's not just paxarette, it's syrup in whisky, it's so simple it's brilliant. It should have been obvious from the location...Spain...Let me explain :-
There is a desert syrup used in the middle east from Morocco to Turkey, India to Spain. It's made from black cardamom and it tastes almost exactly how the single malts from Islay taste and smell. For two decades I've chased that illusive, wonderful taste. Was it the yeast or the wood, is the stillage infected...what phenol or ester could produce the amazing taste of black cardamom... I've never come close...then the mental lighting bolt...and of course Occam's razor..."the simplest solution to a problem is most probably the correct solution" Could it be that simple, I do think it could. If the use of syrup was universally restricted in the Scotch industry, and not just paxarette, the end-around would be an herbal tea, one could use water, wine or stillage...it could be added to the spirit run or to the liquid to cut back from cask strength. I love Indian and middle Eastern food, and I have the recipe for this syrup in one of my cook books.
This opens a whole new chapter in my Single Malt quest...WOW what a day1
kiwi Bruce wrote:William Phaup Lowrie (1831-1916) pioneered the whisky cask management in the late 19h century. Lowrie was a merchant for both Port Ellen whiskies and González Gordon sherries, a cooper and later a co-founder of Glentauchers distillery. The plot thickens... Port Ellen distillery was on Islay.
That "Spicy, medicine, licorice" taste isn't just "like" Black Cardamom...it IS Black Cardamom!
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by jonnys_spirit » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:13 pm

Whoa!!!!!!!!

These are my fav’s. The laphroaig the ardbeg the cao’isle the lagavulin. Next beach vacay I’ll pack a cooler full of rotton seaweed to see what I can come up with.

What’s this syrup? Where to be had?

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:11 pm

jonnys_spirit wrote:Whoa!!!!!!!! What’s this syrup? Where to be had?-j
The original recipe calls for water...I'm substituting cheap red wine, and eliminating the two cups of white sugar.

Kiwi Bruce's Black Cardamom Syrup

6 Black Cardamom pods creaked open :- crushed but not ground
8 flozs of red wine
1 Tbs of glycerine

Reduce to 2 ozs in a Bain Maria (a water bath that stops delicate liquids burning) Strain and store in the fridge.

I'm going to do this and try it, in a shot of single malt, a drop at a time...and see what I get.

The Original Black Cardamom Syrup Recipe

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups of water
6 cracked black cardamom pods (or substitute 3 drops of black cardamom essential oil)
Simmer all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature and fine strain into a clean glass bottle. Cover and keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:14 pm

Personally think cardamom is horrible tasting but I had a bad experience with it in a beer once. The flavor literally took 5 years to age out.... too bad the base beer was oxidized as hell by then

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:40 pm

Between the smoke and the bourbon wood flavor, it's not going to be overpowering, when you wish upon a dram and it may come true, think happy Islay style single malt thoughts.
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:21 pm

kiwi Bruce wrote:Between the smoke and the bourbon wood flavor, it's not going to be overpowering, when you wish upon a dram and it may come true, think happy Islay style single malt thoughts.
Speyside is where my taste buds are.

I'm almost done stilling for the year so my attempts at single malt scotch will have to wait but I have my eye on this thread...

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by SaltyStaves » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:51 pm

kiwi Bruce wrote: (Pronounced eye-lay)
Islay is pronounced Eye-la.
Single Malt Yinzer wrote: Thanks Bruce! I still am working on briny/seaweed flavors. No idea how to reproduce them. The folklore is because they are matured near the ocean. I don't quite believe that.
Yeah, I'm with you on that. I think Kilchoman and Laphroaig are the only two on the island peating their own malt and the rest get theirs from the mainland.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:06 pm

SaltyStaves wrote:Islay is pronounced Eye-la.
Thank you Salty...what the hell do I know, I'm from Taupo

I always though a Single Malt Distillery would be cool on Stewart Island, (but I bet the transport costs would be a peach)
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by brewer24 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:06 am

I'm curious about the use of "darker malts", do you mean like crystal/caramel malts? How much do you need to use to make a difference, 5-10% like in a beer or a lot more? I'm thinking my next batch is gonna be straight 2row malt, like an Irish or light Scotch, and then after that start playing with peated and other malts.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:09 pm

2 or 3 ozs in an 8% ABV, 5Gal wash, no more until you have tried it, the taste...malt from crystal and a deep smoke from roasted malt. comes over a lot stronger than you would expect. ( I've stayed away from roasted barley for this reason.)
Last edited by kiwi Bruce on Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:20 pm

That's about 12-18% of a grist. Decently high.... not many beers you'd make with 18% crystal but there are some.

Smoked malt is gross. I know nothing about that.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:14 pm

I was being rushed when I answered this (my honey wanted to go into town)...I changed the post, It should have read :- 2 or 3 ozs in an 8% ABV, 5Gal wash, I run LME in small experimental batches, I think it's 11 or 12 lb per 5 gal batch...go carefully though...but even if you over do it you can blend it back with a straight malt run.
Do you have the equipment to run small experimental batches?...as in 2 to 3 gal pot still.
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:33 am

Go big or go home. Research the hell out of the recipie and make enough to fill a barrel. I'm crazy like that.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by jonnys_spirit » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:13 am

kiwi Bruce wrote:
jonnys_spirit wrote:Whoa!!!!!!!! What’s this syrup? Where to be had?-j
The original recipe calls for water...I'm substituting cheap red wine, and eliminating the two cups of white sugar.

Kiwi Bruce's Black Cardamom Syrup

6 Black Cardamom pods creaked open :- crushed but not ground
8 flozs of red wine
1 Tbs of glycerine

Reduce to 2 ozs in a Bain Maria (a water bath that stops delicate liquids burning) Strain and store in the fridge.

I'm going to do this and try it, in a shot of single malt, a drop at a time...and see what I get.

The Original Black Cardamom Syrup Recipe

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups of water
6 cracked black cardamom pods (or substitute 3 drops of black cardamom essential oil)
Simmer all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature and fine strain into a clean glass bottle. Cover and keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.
Thank you and recipe noted :) I’ll be trying this along with some peated malts.

Tank u sir!
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Thu Aug 02, 2018 3:41 pm

OK... don't waste your time... tried it, not even close. Didn't waste a whole lot of spirit...but Islay it ain't. Have to rethink this one, bummer I though I was there... :lolno:
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:47 pm

kiwi Bruce wrote:I could weep...I have tried for the last decade to make a single malt that came close to a drop from one of the distilleries from Islay, and now I have one and don't know how I got it
Is it just me ? is it...I'm getting old and senile ? have any of you found a really good stash of something special and had no recollection of how or why you hide it ? I know I can do some stupid shi# when I drink but this is too much...I was looking for some "two part" and there stashed with the glue is 1/2 gal of single malt, still on the wood, from who knows when...it's so dark it's like a dark black rum and the smell is amazing, I've looked at my notes, no idea...
I moved this over from the bench...it now makes more sense here...
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by SaltyStaves » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:40 pm

SaltyStaves wrote: Yeah, I'm with you on that. I think Kilchoman and Laphroaig are the only two on the island peating their own malt and the rest get theirs from the mainland.
Correction, now that I've been there, the Port Ellen maltings (in Port Ellen, on Islay) supply the malt for the island's distilleries. Laphroaig, do aroubd 30% of their own malting and get the rest from Port Ellen.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:29 pm

One of my winter projects will be trying to make something close to Glenmorange Nectar D'or. Before I start up a thread on this anyone care to point me in the right direction from the get go?

For those who haven't had it.... well I'm sorry. It's amazing. Highlands, no smoke, no peat, golden color, low-moderate level of oak character. Light fruit esters, honey, sweet. 46%

Recommdations on:

Mash grist?
Yeast? Temps?
Oak type/prep?

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by SaltyStaves » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:35 pm

The Sauternes casks play a major part.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:51 pm

SaltyStaves wrote:The Sauternes casks play a major part.
I'd imagine just dosing with some sweet wine will come into play. I'm not sourcing a Sauternes cask. I have some quality used Bourbon wood.

Thanks for reminding me of that.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by SaltyStaves » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:03 pm

butterpants wrote:
SaltyStaves wrote:The Sauternes casks play a major part.
I'd imagine just dosing with some sweet wine will come into play. I'm not sourcing a Sauternes cask. I have some quality used Bourbon wood.

Thanks for reminding me of that.
Wasn't suggesting you get a cask. :D

Nectar D'or, Quinta Ruban, Lasanta are all Glenmorangie 10 YO with a 2 year finish in their respective casks. So making something similar to the 10YO and then finishing it with Sauternes would be your best option.

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:26 pm

Probably less confusing to lead in with that then. I'm still awaiting more specifics :)

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:37 pm

butterpants wrote:
SaltyStaves wrote:The Sauternes casks play a major part.
I'm not sourcing a Sauternes cask. I have some quality used Bourbon wood.
Got your hands on a bottle of Sauternes/or similar wine. Put the wine and some of your, used and dried Bourbon wood in a preserving jar and pressure cook it, in water/ not dry, for about 15-20 min. This will force the wine into the wood, let it cool and stand for a few hours, or keep it in the jar until your ready to use it...use this wood at the very end of your finish, taste regularly and repeat until you get the result you like...
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:49 pm

kiwi Bruce wrote:
butterpants wrote:
SaltyStaves wrote:The Sauternes casks play a major part.
I'm not sourcing a Sauternes cask. I have some quality used Bourbon wood.
Got your hands on a bottle of Sauternes/or similar wine. Put the wine and some of your, used and dried Bourbon wood in a preserving jar and pressure cook it, in water/ not dry, for about 15-20 min. This will force the wine into the wood, let it cool and stand for a few hours, or keep it in the jar until your ready to use it...use this wood at the very end of your finish, taste regularly and repeat until you get the result you like...
Sounds like a plan. That's definitely the easy part.

What about malt selection? Mash temp? Yeast Strain? Fermentation temp?

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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by kiwi Bruce » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:08 pm

Glenmorange is one of those whiskys not typical of it's region, it's a lot closer to a lowland...
Lowland Single Malts...Grass, honeysuckle, cream, toffee, toast.(Yes Glenmorange fits here)
My take :-
Very Pale malts, ( as I said way back...) if you cut the pale malts that are available to us, back with white or corn sugar by say 20%, you wont hurt your attempt to make this style. however you could add a very small amount of crystal or caramalt as Glenmorange has a a good malt taste...but go easy.
Yeast, Ale yeasts with low/no ester profile, Nottingham maybe.
Temp, ferment this as low as a ale yeast can go...no stress, nothing to make it produce esters.
They are cut early with a fair amount of late heads and very little tails.
Aging, just a short time on low toasted oak...you'll have to taste this often as to not over do it, WHAT A TERRIBLE CHORE !
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Re: Single Malt Whisky Defined by Region

Post by butterpants » Sat May 25, 2019 6:36 pm

Well I finally got around to doing this. 10x 10 gallon mashes using 25# Golden Promise per, no sparge and a bit of lactic acid ~1.060-5 OG. Fermentis USW-6 at 72F, overpitched. 10 hard strip runs yielding 2 gallons low wines each, 3 hours a run. 2x spirit runs through a 3" stainless tower pot still real light copper packing, low and slow bout 9 hours a run. After cuts 5gal at 50%.

I found the cuts to be significantly more difficult than bourbon or rum to decipher from a sensory perspective. I went a little more headsy and stopped once I smelled tails. I've always found bourbon tails to be full of flavor and pleasant. This the case with this single malt. They seemed vegetal and not good.

It's going into a 2x used toasted Gibbs barrel that had 8 months of blackstrap rum as a primary fill then 1 month of amber dopplebock (beer). Going in lower than normal barrel proof because I'd like to extract more wood sugars and less tannin. Think I'm going to split dosing/finishing half with saturnine and half sherry. Anyone have a sweet sherry recommendation?

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