Do Premium Single Malt Whiskies Really Taste Better?
The taste of premium single malt whisky is often considered superior to that of its less expensive counterparts, but whether it “tastes better” can be considered subjective, depending on the individual. The drinker’s age and exposure to spirits both have a role to play in flavour perception.
Several factors contribute to the taste difference between expensive and cheaper whisky.
Quality of ingredients
Firstly, the quality of the ingredients is paramount. Premium single malts typically use high-quality malted barley, yeast, and water, which are the soul of a whisky. The source of the water and the type of malted barley influence the final flavour profile, with pure, mineral-rich water and fine quality malted barley and yeast contributing to a more exquisite taste.
Ageing is a critical factor
Premium single malts are aged for longer periods, which allows for the development of a more complex flavour profile. The location of the barrel storage and its associated climate has a big influence. Coburns ages its whisky at 770 metres above sea level, 30 kilometres from the coast. This creates both temperature and barometric pressure variations which contribute to the oak releasing its flavour.
Barrels add a distinctive flavour
The type of barrel used, whether it’s American or French oak, ex Port casks, sherry butts, and double barrel finishes also add distinctive notes to the whisky. The interaction between the spirit and the oak barrels over time imparts rich flavours such as vanilla, caramel, honey, spices, and fruit, and helps mellow any harshness.
Distillation methods play a role as well
Premium single malts come from distilleries that practice careful, slow, and often traditional methods, ensuring a purer spirit that can mature into a smoother, more nuanced whisky. The international recognition Coburns has received is testament to the ingenuity and commitment of its founders Mark & Jenni Coburn.
The perceived taste
Additionally, the rarity and exclusivity of premium single malts can influence the perceived taste. Limited single barrel releases and whiskies from renowned distilleries or those with unique aging processes can create anticipation and a sense of luxury, which may enhance the tasting experience.
While premium single malts are crafted to deliver a more complex, more refined, and often smoother flavour, the notion of “better” taste is highly personal. Some enthusiasts may find certain less expensive whiskies to their liking due or a fondness for the characteristics imparted by different production techniques.
Ultimately, premium single malts are distinguished by both the expertise and the conditions under which they are produced and matured, which are designed to create a superior tasting experience.
You could say, the love of whisky is a very broad church.
Taste the award-winning Coburns Whisky for yourself at one our upcoming tastings, held regularly across Australian capital cities. Secure your spot.