What does it mean when a whisky is termed approachable? I don’t know about you, but to me it means that dram is gentle, i.e. it doesn’t hit you over the head with a blast of strength, spiciness, or smoke. That expression might be the entry to a particular distillery’s range of offerings, or just an interesting and non-confrontational member of that lineup. An approachable whisky doesn’t scare off a newbie, nor offend an…uhm…“oldbie”…it’s easy to appreciate the whisky’s aroma and flavors, yet be a relaxed sip as well. An approachable whisky isn’t demanding on a summer’s evening.
The offerings at Whiskey Wednesday last week at Gordons DTX featured a number of easy, approachable whisky and bourbon expressions. They were different in character and finishes, yet all sippable and easy to enjoy. Let’s explore this lineup, shall we?
Gordons DTX, July 11, 2018
Wild Turkey Longbranch
KY straight bourbon, Mesquite charcoal redefined, 43%ABV
- Nose: Brown sugar, faint baking spices, light rye
- Taste: heavy andoily, white pepper rises, slightly smoky, almost pine
- Finish: caramel candy sweetness, holds on, light cloves sneak in at the end
- Comments: I didn’t get a strong mesquite (that’s what I expected) but instead got light smoke in the background. Overall, it’s a good sweet bourbon
Pinhook Straight Rye
- Nose: strong rye, subtle oak, mild cardamom
- Taste: med body, juicy, caraway seeds, cloves and cardamom
- Finish: brown sugar slinks in at the finish
- Comments: crisp rye, clean flavor
Clyde May’s Alabama Style Cask Strength
- Nose: light brown sugar, cinnamon, alcohol masks more of the nose
- Taste: medium body, baking spices, salted caramel
- Finish: fades to sweet cinnamon and brown sugar
- Comments: at cask strength it’s still quite drinkable; with water the nose goes to peppermint sticks and molasses, and the taste presents cedar, cloves, and cinnamon that fades to strong sweet cinnamon and cloves. Really enjoyable!
Peated whisky cast finished, 61.5%ABV
- Nose: beach breezes, strong everygreen (junipers?), vanilla
- Taste: strong peat, thick body, sour, strong baking spices, heather then iodine
- Finish: the baking spices lasts with the beachy peat
- Comments: strong Islay influence…when I realized what I was having, I appreciated it more; It’s a Highland scotch that wants to be from Islay
- Nose: hay, heather, pine forest, vanilla fudge
- Taste: light body, vanilla fudge, heather
- Finish: herbal, very light nutmeg
- Comments: quintessential Highland…light & bright
Benromach Gordon’s Exclusive Single Malt
- Nose: caramel candy, vanilla, lightly forested smoke
- Taste: thick body, pine, herbal
- Finish: herbal finish, sweet, mossy, clover honey
- Comments: I really liked this one. Classic Speyside…the herbal character is wonderful, and the Highland peat shows nicely. This was my favorite of the night
It’s nice to have an approachable whisky to enjoy without making any strenuous demands on the palate. Easy sipping doesn’t have to be boring, just friendly. I’d like to hear from you…how would you define what an approachable whisky is and what is a good example? Leave your comments below and let’s talk. You’ll find me on the back porch enjoying the sunset.
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!