Whisky colours, why the fuss?

on Aug 10 in Editorial by dan

What does the color of a whisky matter? I mean, I can see that people like the shades of amber, yellow, gold in the same way my Fiancé’s favorite colour is purple… but I am never sure why its included in whisky reviews, and especially with phrases like “its a beautiful golden amber” included.

I get it, you like the colour… But… Does it tell me anything useful about the whisky? Can I divine any information about the important things about a whisky from the colour?

Lets rewind a bit… Somedays I, like anyone else, I am more fanciful and easy going, and other days I am scientific and logical [Ed. read as grumpy]. It’s on these logical days that I start considering things like, how can a colour be good? Why are you telling me about your personal feelings about a colour?

and by the way I do this myself sometimes in my reviews, so I’m not having a go at anyone.

OK, so scientifically there must a reason people like to talk about the colours. I imagine those colours are mentally/emotionally connected to nature, the sun, fire lights, distant memories of parents/friends and possibly specific events which trigger fond memories. If you are writing a blog post which shares those memories and explains how the colour and experience takes you back, then I think it can actually be a valuable addition to a review or piece of writing because it makes them different and interesting; in fact I find articles of that nature some of the best.

Another reason to mention the colour is maybe to try and imply some kind of measure of the amount the casks or kegs have effected the whisky. Again this could be valuable if you include some information about the cask type, and that is also some information which can help make a good review.

So what have I learned thinking about this?

Colors in whisky are pleasing becuase they take your senses on the start of the journey into remembering fantastic whisky experiences. The smell takes you further back in your memory and then the taste can take you anywhere.

I’m not sure how useful colour charts are in a review, but from a emotional point of view, being connected to experiences and feelings which you might hope to share with a reader/writer. I think using the colour as a trigger to those memories can be fantastic; The best blog posts don’t talk as much about the whisky as they do the experience, the story and the places it takes you. The colour can help add to and enhance that experience.

In the future I will continue to mention the colour, but im not going to say “its a good deep amber”,  I’m going to tell you where that starts me on a journey of something worth sharing with the world.

* and I might also imply if it means anything about the effect of the cask wood on the whisky.

Where does the colour of whisky actually come from?

Why whisky is the colour and what whisky colour means:

Whisky is aged and matured inside wooden barrels that we previously used to age other drinks like sherry and bourbon whisky. The colour of scotch whisky is inherited from the type of barrel they are put in to mature. Whiskies start their life as clear spirit and the colour come out of the wood into the spirit making it anything from pale straw to deep dark brown.

Whisky aged in first fill sherry barrels will probably be darker, and whisky aged in bourbon barrels will be lighter and more yellow/straw coloured.

I hope that helped answer a few basic questions.

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