Why? Whisky is an intricate drink. It can take very little to change the flavour of the liquid. For this reason, it is not uncommon for distillers to order stills with the exact same dents and grooves as the ones they always use, to ensure consistency of flavour.
So with the nature of Whisky being so delicate, different batches and vintages will definitely offer up different flavours.
BatchesEvery cask is different. Whisky that is released in batches will have slightly different flavours and comparing them is a brilliant way to improve your tasting skills. And if you happen to enjoy the dram, then even better!
The casks have the biggest impact on flavour so it makes sense that the first batch of a certain expression will have different notes to any succeeding it. This does not mean that the main flavour profile will change, but simply that certain notes will be emphasised over others.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to taste two different batches and decipher the differences between them. You will become more attuned to certain notes and taste them more in some batches over others.
VintagesWood effects Whisky massively as it ages, and each year will have more of an effect. This does have a tipping point at around 12 years, but even after that, the flavour will change.
The level of char on a cask allows the liquid to interact with the wood, as well as introducing smoky flavours it also encourages the amount of tannins in the wood, bringing out more vanilla flavours.
Wood also filters out sulphur and other chemicals, and changes the flavour. Overtime this will have more of an effect, so a younger dram will have more of these flavours than an older one.
Comparing vintages will give great insight in the maturation process and how this changes flavour. It is a great way to get to know your favourite expression and to also learn more about the effort that goes into making them.
My favoriteMy favourite comparison has to be Dewar’s White Label from the 1950s vs Dewar’s White Label of 2017. I really enjoy the modern versions; a really smooth, flavoursome whisky that is great for all sorts of occasions, but I wanted to understand the origins and the lineage of the product so bought myself a 1950s bottling of Dewar’s White Label and wow was it interesting.
The DNA of both is familiar, they are clearly related, but in the older version you get a lot more malt character, some wisps of smoke and some incredible citrus notes, whereas today’s equivalent has that citrus character along with a sweetness to it that is softer and more approachable than the older version.
I could not say which I prefer, but both are interesting in their own right, and it opened my eyes to how Whisky and flavour preference in Whisky drinkers has developed in the last six decades.
What is your favourite comparison? Share with us!