RSS Leeds, Bradford & York Local Groups 

"We'll tak a cup of kindness yet" - the statistical story of Scotch whisky

Dr David Wishart, author of Whisky Classified: Choosing Single Malts by FlavourAlcuin College East Wing, Room EW003

University of York

Wednesday 3rd December 2008, at 3.30pm

Royal Statistical Society 


Discover the flavours of Scotch malt whiskies at this talk and tasting by Dr. David Wishart, author of Whisky Classified: Choosing Single Malts by Flavour.  Dubbed the "Carl LinnŠus" of whisky by fellow writer Charles Maclean, David was the first to categorise single malts by flavour.  His classification - an example of a product segmentation, as used in marketing, or a phylogenetic tree in evolutionary microbiology - is fully endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Industry, which honoured him as a "Keeper of the Quaich" in 2006.

Whisky Classified - Choosing Single Malts by FlavourDavid will guide you through the history and romance of Scotch whisky, from the aqua vitae of the early monasteries, the alchemist's art of turning barley into medicine, and the hedonistic uisge beatha of remote Scottish crofts, to the taverns of the Royal Mile and the hot toddies of Edinburgh's New Town.  The surgeon-barbers' monopoly in licensing whisky in the 16th century spawned illicit stills in Highland bothies, battles with the excisemen, and the smuggling of whisky into the cities.

The Royal romance with "Scotch" started with George IV in 1822, blossomed with Queen Victoria at Balmoral, and continues with the Prince of Wales today.  Whisky is evoked in the poetry of Burns, in the travelogues of Stevenson, and in the art of Landseer and Wilkie.  London may have toasted with brandy in the Regency period, but when a tiny beetle devastated Cognac in 1863, the upper classes turned to whisky and the famous Scotch brands were born.  David Lloyd George tried his best to kill it off in the cause of temperance, but he couldn't prevent the "Real McCoy" reaching the speak-easies of New York and Chicago during US Prohibition in the 1920s.

David Wishart nosing a single malt whiskyToday, the flavour of malt whisky is more diverse than ever, due to the influence of variable peating, cask preparation, extended maturation, and special finishing.  David describes his unique multivariate classification by flavour based on sensory analysis.

He has chosen some well-known favourites for the tasting, plus a couple of malts that are harder to find.  They span the "flavour spectrum", the range of flavours of single malt whiskies as described in David's book.  It will also be possible for you to purchase signed copies of David's book, if you wish.

David's tutored tasting is sponsored by the distillers of Ardmore Traditional Cask, Edradour 10yo, Glenfarclas 10yo, Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15yo, Glengoyne 10yo, Highland Park 12yo, Macallan Fine Oak 12yo, Speyburn 10yo, Smokehead and Tomintoul Peaty Tang.

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