Nosing your way to whisky knowledge

22 April 2013

Whilst most people may think that with whisky it is all about taste, for a true appreciation of fine single malts, one needs to start with the nose. To that end, crews on the 2012 Malts Cruise had the opportunity to educate their noses and their palates at a series of tutored “nosings”.

Held ashore at scenic locations or on board the lead boat for the Malts Cruise, the gaff rigged Spray of Wight, these intimate evenings were a popular way to learn more about the special flavours and heritage of single malt whisky, as well as their role in island culture and identity.

The small groups were guided through a selection of varying whiskies, often expressing the different styles of the Highlands and Islands distilleries, looking for the flavours and smells that define a particular single malt.

At Loch Scavaig, one of the most spectacular anchorages on the west of Scotland, tucked in beside the impressive Cullin Ridges on the south end of Skye, cruisers had a unique opportunity for a nosing Talisker 57°North right beside the hills that collect the very water used to make the spirit. Across the Cullins lies the Talisker Distillery at Carbost on Loch Harport, the only distillery on the Isle of Skye.

With a warm sun setting behind the hills of Rum, the entire crew of Akrana  were welcomed on board Spray for a nosing of Islay malts, and a celebration of crew member Libby Deegan’s heritage; her family being McLean’s who left the Isle of Rum for Australia during the Highland Clearances of the mid-nineteenth century.

Germans, Australians, Swedes, Finns, Swiss, Icelanders, Irish, Americans, New Zealanders, Norwegians and Dutch crews shared with their British friends in cosy sessions in the cabin of Spray when it was too cool for an outdoor nosing. All went away with a warm glow from experiencing fine single malts, and good conversation, as well as learning a little more about this magic spirit – the uisge beatha – the "water of life".