Thursday 18 March 2010

Advanced Course continued

Well, that's the first running of the Advanced Whisky course - and now the students are asking me to write the Advanced Advanced Whisky Course! No, I don't think so. The whole thing has worked a lot better than I thought it would.
With a course content like:

1. Characteristics Arising from Distillation and Fermentation

An examination of the characteristics which arrive through foreshots and/or feints, metallic, sulphury and off-notes, their causes and manifestations. 2/3/4 distillations. What makes a good whisky? Beyond subjectivity.

Group blind tasting organised by tutor

2. Beyond Maturation.

A look at wood types and the inherent characteristics of various oaks; what previous inhabitants of the casks give to or take from the whisky; storage conditions; “good” and “bad” results – too old and too youthful. Focus on one whisky with a look at various ages of that whisky.

Students to bring three aromas in containers for class to identify blind.

Group blind tasting organised by tutor and group note taking

3. 2nd February, 2010 Regionalisation – Does it Exist?

An examination of the flavours inherent in the makes of various distilleries; identification of regional characteristics; examination of primary, secondary and tertiary flavours with comparison with Diageo’s map, S.W.C’s wheel and John Lamond’s Aberlour Whisky Wheel.

Individual blind tasting and group note taking

4. Glasses and Their Influences

Comparison of Schott, Riedel & Glencairn. Different flavour characteristics emphasised by different glasses

Blind tasting from various glassware

5. Brand and Craft

Examination of independent bottlers’ influences on flavour; chill-filtration; 40/43/46/cask strength; e150; grain species – yields versus flavour?

Blind tasting of non-whisky spirits supplied by students and written appraisal of tasting

6. Visit to Edrington’s Lab

Biochemistry & gas spectrometry – what are they looking for? Reduction water quality, either at cask filling or bottling. Water problems at the distillery – low or contamination.

7. Open Week

Each student to give a 10 minute presentation on some aspect of whisky. Followed by an open discussion and appraisal.

Blind tasting with each student giving a detailed written appraisal of four whiskies.

8. The Market

How is it controlled? Is it controlled? Who controls it? Politics, trends, influence, the auction market – and fakes; other World Whiskies.

Blind tastings – each student to give a verbal presentation for five minutes on their chosen sample.

I was certain that some parts would work, but the whole thing went really quite magnificently. A lot was down to the calibre of the students, with the effort they put into their presentations being very impressive.
Week 8, for example, my intention was that they would merely present for 5 minutes on an expression of a whisky. I arrived with 8 whiskies (including Millstone 8 from the Netherlands and Yamazaki 10 from Japan) for them to taste blind. They each brought along a sample, which meant that we tasted 17 whiskies on the night. No wonder that the janitor was champing at the bit to get us out of the building so that he could lock up at 9.10 p.m. (the class is supposed to finish at 8.30p.m.).
Great night though.

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