Many years ago, possibly in 2000 I went to Scotland and spent a week or so travelling about, riding a hop on/hop off backpacker bus and staying in hostels. I think this was my first introduction to whisky and I was able to sample a few. On that trip, in the hop off phase, a friend and I travelled to the Orkney Islands and stayed in Stromness. The Orkney Islands have two whiskies, both of which I got to try: Scapa and Highland Park. The latter was the best whisky I tried that trip and I’ve been drinking it off and on since. Turns out it’s regarded as one of the better Scottish whiskies, not that I knew it at the time.
In recent years I’ve been trying out a broader range of whiskies here and there and finding some new ones I like, and some I don’t. I’ve been to a few tasting shows as well. I’ve recently come across discussions around flavour profiles and the use of them as a tool to work out other whiskies you might like. It follows the idea that if you prefer a particular flavour profile then you should like all or most whiskies that exhibit similar characteristics.
A friend pointed out an infographic that someone had put together to visually represent the data that goes into creating profiles. Looking at the image for Highland Park, sure enough other whiskies I like have similar profiles including: Balvenie, Benriach, Bowmore and Glenlivet. Curiously, I love Laphroiag but hate Ardbeg even though they have similar profiles and I would normally say that I avoid the really smoky whiskies. In which case, my enjoyment of Laphroiag is something of an anomaly. Nor is it the case that you are limited to one or two profiles as I have recently come across Glenrothes which is slightly different again. It’s a shame that that infographic only covers 86 whiskies and I’d love to see something covering a broader range.