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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whisky

    As many here will recall, some years ago, researchers in the Antarctic discovered cases of Scotch whisky that explorer Ernest Shackelton had left in a cabin and which were preserved for about a century by the extreme cold.

    Some of the bottles were brought back to Scotland and given sophisticated modern gas chromatographic and other analysis.

    This is the article, published in 2011 in the U.K.'s Institute of Brewing's Journal, reporting the results:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1....tb00455.x/pdf

    Recently, most of the Journal's back issues were placed online for free consultation by researchers in brewing science and other interested parties. While mainly devoted to beer, the Journal has always published a number of articles on aspects of distilling.

    The article is quite readable despite the formidable science and contains a good conclusion using laymen's terms.

    Basically, the whisky was found to be - including by "sensory analysis" (i.e., tasting) - modern in style, closely resembling a current, moderately aged, lightly-peated single malt. The one area that seemed different was the greater amount of "feints" in the whisky: the article explains that the cut-off point (the cut) is somewhat different today so that a feinty note is not typically found in modern scotch whisky (a so-called "off" taste that nonetheless did not dominate the flavour, the taste is described as woody, spicy, winy/sweet, lightly smoky, i.e., very similar to a light malt of today. The article specifically notes that the whisky exhibited no flavours not found in modern whiskies). The science is so good that the likely source of the peat was ID'd: Orkney.

    The ABV was about 47%, higher than the standard bottling strength today. The high strength was felt to preserve the whisky, which was clear, from chill haze, since at the time it was bottled, chill filtration did not exist.

    These scientists and the successor company to Mackinlay deserve a round of thanks from whisky fans everywhere for this commanding and smartly written article which has both technical and considerable historical value.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 06-01-2013 at 18:52.

  2. #2
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Gary you may recall we could still get 94 proof Scots whisky well into the 1970s, I wonder if that was a common proof historically.

  3. #3
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Squire, you can probably buy that book online for very little and if you don't know it, I highly advise it.

    Although I've read thousands of pages by now of whiskey history and lore, that book is the best single source of technical information and social and cultural history on the world's whiskies I have ever read. The only part that is somewhat dated are some of the tasting notes under the pictured labels, but even then if you read them with the appropriate qualifiers, most of it still applies. E.g., the standard Jura is now 10 years old, not eight, but his taste description is as applicable today as it was in the late 80's and by logical application, 1900.

    The long essay-chapters remain virtually pristine, the only real change is ownership of some distilleries has changed, and a few in American closed, e.g. Medley's, but even that doesn't matter since many here remember the whiskeys or tasted them in dusty form. It's The World Guide To Whisky by Michael Jackson, published in 1987 by Dorling Kindersley in the U.K. (still a very active and reputed drinks and food publisher). His first words in the U.S. chapter: "In the land of conspicuous consumption, there is a reminder of drink on every other poster or page, yet there remains a peculiar ambivalence about it".

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 06-02-2013 at 05:03.

  5. #5
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Yes Gary, I've owned the book since it was published and recommend it highly.

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Yes Squire and you still see that proof occasionally, for some malts.

    Gary

  7. #7
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Haven't seen them in the South for years, as a matter of fact I quit buying Glenlivet and Laphroaig when they dropped to 86 proof.

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Excellent!

    Gary

  9. #9
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    Thanks for sharing this, Gary! I saw the TV special on this and thought it was fascinating.
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

  10. #10
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    Re: A Tour De Force Article Scientifically Analyzing Circa-1900 Mackinlay Scotch Whis

    You're right - while the science is sophisticated (and there are parts I am lost in), this document makes it very approachable. I wonder if Sazerac/BT is doing something similar with their Single Oak project?
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

 

 

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