Blind Flavour, Blind Following

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Blind Flavour, Blind Following

June Outturn 2023 Article


June is here and Champs is just around the corner. In fact, this whole month is centred around the AMWTC, which, in itself, is so much more than just a guessing game. It’s a personal flavour journey using nothing but your own senses. Sure, it pays to know what the drams on the possible 50 list are, but it’s your own senses that do all the hard work at the end of the day. The idea of blind tastings and flavour journeys — partnered with some words in May Unfiltered that one of my Society colleagues at The Vaults, Julien Willems, wrote — got me thinking about preconceptions, and how much they can really influence people’s decisions.


The Society is all about flavour — it’s our motto, it’s what we try our best to instil in members and the wider whisky community, and it’s the truth. A name is just a name. In many cases, some names deserve hype to a certain level (as there’s usually a reason said names have reached such a level of prestige), but as of late — with the likes of social media and the urge to show off/compete with others’ collections halfway across the world — so much of the so-called hype is inflated with no logical reason at its core.

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, I’ll share with you Julien’s words from May Unfiltered #81:

“I remember some remarks about mildly boring Outturns, when the only sources of peat was a monthly release from distilleries 3, 29 and many older refill barrels and hogsheads. The lesson is to enjoy and appreciate what is available while you can, or at least lay down some stocks for the future during times of plenty. There will come a time when you’ll congratulate yourself for planning ahead.”


These words were in reference to 2016 when Julien was behind the bar at The Vaults — imagine being bored with constant 29 releases? In fact, even closer to home, I’ve heard Matt and other members frequently talk about the same era in The Society when 33s were steadily featured in Outturn. That just doesn’t happen anymore, and that’s probably a good thing. A 29 was nothing special back then, and neither was a 33 — it kind of reminds me of a bunch of other codes we’re seeing a lot of right now like 66, 68, 35.

The 66s and 68s we’ve been getting through as of late have been astoundingly tasty. And who knows, in 5+ years we may see a shortage of these codes, it wouldn’t take much, and we’ll have members reminiscing and murmuring that we don’t see many of them anymore, ascending them to a hyped-up, cult status.

The point is, if you take away the codes, the labels, and the brands, you just have your senses, and only by using those alone will you be able to determine what you like or dislike. June is Champs month, but it’s also a celebration of flavour discovery the old-fashioned way — using the tasting notes and your senses. There’s so much incredible whisky out there, and quite a lot of it isn’t from the big hype brands.


This article is featured in June 2023 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 2nd of June at midday AEST exclusively to members of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Not a member? Click here to learn more about the world’s most colourful whisky club.


About the Author:

Adam Ioannidis is SMWS Australia's Marketing Coordinator and general appreciator of whisky, music and cinema.

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