View Full Version : Q regarding aged grain whiskey / whisky
I don't have much experience with non-bourbon/rye "aged grain" whiskeys and am curious about the taste difference. For example, in Scotland, the grain whisky is actually often identical to a bourbon mash but is aged in re-used barrels vs fresh. What is the actual difference in taste? I believe Rafly will be exploring this topic soon. Do these American, Canadian, Scotch etc. grain whiskeys offer a similar and ?cheaper taste profile experience to bourbon?
Great question. I've had a number of Scotch and Irish grain whiskeys. There are similarities in the flavor profile, which makes sense since the ingredients are similar (corn, rye, wheat, barley). These whiskeys almost always tend to be lighter tasting than American grain; I would guess that's because of the reused cooperage. That being said, I've had some very good Scotch grain. Signatory has some very old casks (40+ years) of North of Scotland grain that it has been releasing over the past few years, and it is really great stuff that would definitely appeal to a bourbon lover.
One interesting thing is that you almost never see mashbills for Scotch and Irish grain whiskey. It may simply that, since these whiskeys are not very popular, there is no demand for that information, but in most cases, you have no idea of the mashbill or even of which grains are included.
It sounds like they are much closer to bourbon...I assume usually unpeated, lack of iodine and smoke etc, but I assume some are made just like traditional scotch. What go me thinking about this is that there is no "Scottish bourbon per se" but their grain whiskies come close. The same with American and Canadian (though they also tend to be lighter). It must also highlight the difference between first use and second use barrels. I imagine the yeasts are different as well. The U.K. does not produce much corn/maize so the grain would be imported.
They are, in many ways, closer to bourbon than single malt Scotch. They are usually made in continuous stills rather than the pot stills used for malt; I've never heard of a peated grain whiskey and would be surprised if there is such a thing (though you never know). Many of the not so good ones taste like watered down bourbon.
You have to remember that the sole function of grain whiskey in Scotland is to serve as a cheap component for blended Scotch. I don't believe there are any grain whiskeys that are released by Scottish distilleries as single grains. All of the Scotch single grains or vatted grains I've seen are through independent bottlers.
One Irish distillery, Cooley, does release its own grain whiskey, under the Greenore label.
A good example....but no clue as to the mashbill...and not cheap due to the required aging etc.
Compass Box Hedonism Vatted Scotch Grain Whisky (750mL)
A bit pricey at $94.
The Hudson Four Grain
I've read that they (the Scots) are using a lot of wheat these days to fill out their grain whiskeys but I don't have a source for that. In the past they may have been more corn based.
I seem to remember Mike Veach (bourbonv) saying that he got to try aged grain whisky ("blending spirit," I think he called it) and that it was quite similar to Mellow Corn. I would assume that a lower corn percentage would not give the same result.
Serge over on whiskyfun.com has notes on a number of grain whiskies he has tried and they seem to be pretty variable.
Compass Box Hedonism - Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
Interesting, they indicate most of the grain whisky is from "first fill American oak casks"......vanilla and toffee notes.....Ralfy will be reviewing next so the comparison to bourbon will be interesting.
John Glaser, the whiskymaker is an American....he has brought some creative ideas to the scotch whisky world.
Sunday, 4 March 2012
whisky review 254 - Compass Box Hedonism Grain Whisky
No mash bill, and it sounds more like a Canadian whisky than a bourbon in character.
He mentions a corn note but I imgagine corn is a small percentage, probably much higher on the wheat and barley %s.
Ralfy also smelled a smoke note....origin?
Since most of the whisky used in Hedonism is 15-30 YO if my info is correct, corn would definitely have been the main grain used. As far as the smoke, I can't come up with anything as I have never heard of any grain being peated. Of course, until 2 days ago I had never heard of a peated Dalmore either.
So I take it in the past corn was more often used as a source than today?
I assume lower cost at that time was the major reason for the selection, right?
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