LEXICON: From Tails to Tumbler

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The low ABV tails (or ‘feints’) of one run of a pot still are re-distilled later.
The Talisker distillery have been the only one on the Isle of Skye for years.
In same year that Tamdhu started production, their competitors sued them.
Tamnavulin is one of just a few distilleries with its own warehouses.
Glenmorangie uses 'hard' water from Tarlogie Springs - rich in minerals.
Making tasting notes can help increase your whisky enjoyment further.
In most countries high taxes are levied on alcoholic beverages and spirits.
Whisky from Teaninich is a key component of the Johnnie Walker blends.
Teaspooning means diluting a single malt with a tiny amount of other whisky.
We shouldn’t look down on a teetoltaler - NOT drinking is better for some.
The terroir concept makes sense in the wine world - not so much for whisky.

The name of The Bottlers suggests they are the only bottlers around.
German independent bottler TWA started out as ‘The Whisky Fair’.
The Whisky Exchange is one of the whisky ventures of Sukhinder Singh.
The ‘Whisky Fair’ event in Germany gave rise to an independent bottler. 
The Japanese bottler 'Three Rivers' specialises in pretty, expensive bottles.
A ‘tierce’ is a classic cask size, half a puncheon and similar to an oil barrel.
Time is what sets whisky apart from spirits like gin. Whisky needs to mature.

On the production side of things, toasting is the light charring of a cask.
... while people can use the whisky for toasting someone’s health later.
The original name for the Tobermory distillery was actually Ledaig.
The old Tochineal distillery was replaced by Inchgower in 1871.
For a long time the capacity of Tomatin put it in Scotland’s top 10.
The ‘perfume’ bottlings of Tomintoul from the 1980s were fantastic.
Construction of the Torabhaig distillery on Skye started in 2014.
The Tormore distillery near Grantown On Spey is a sight to behold.
In 2015 the only distillery still using triple distillation was Auchentoshan.
The Tullibardine distillery used to be a brewery in the distant past.
A tumbler is a type of glassware suitable for blends, not single malt whisky.
The tun is one of those old, vague cask sizes - holding 208-256 gallons.
A turbidimeter is a 'nephelometer'; an instrument to measure concentrations.
Peat is sometimes called 'turf' - which is also the Dutch word for peat.


Still in the woods

Unlike continuous distillation of grain
whisky in a column still, a ‘distillation
run’ in a pot still has a beginning, a
middle and an end. And it always starts
with firing up the (spirit) still...

It takes quite some time for a pot still to
reach the temperatures required for
the distillation process. And then the
first alcohol from the still (the foreshots)
isn’t even suitable for consumption.

Fortunately, the ‘heart of the run’ is
next - a long stream of pure spirit that
only needs a few years in a good cask
to grow into lovely malt whisky.

After this crescendo there’s also some
trickling afterwards. These tails (also
known as feints or aftershots) have a
lower alcohol percentage and cannot
be used at that point. However, they
are re-distilled in the next distillation run.

Tasting notes

In my experience, tasting notes are very personal. Some distillers include tasting notes on their labels
or packaging - but they rarely include who made those notes. So, that makes those notes quite useless.
Just like colours, tastes and flavours are purely personal experiences to some extent. It’s easy enough
to also “find” an aroma in a whisky after somebody else already called it out, but that could be suggestion.
Especially beginners can benefit from making notes - it helps fine-tuning your senses.


When you want to distill spirits without large amounts of methanol in them you need a lot of equipment.
That equipment is expensive and hard to move, which made (legal) distillers the perfect target for taxation.
All over the world people have been brewing and distilling for hundreds of years - and governments have
been taxing those people for almost as long. No problem - if the proceeds are used for the common good.


Not to be confused with the sleeping disorder ‘spooning’, teaspooning means adding a minute quantity
of ‘Malt Whisky B’ (the proverbial teaspoon) to a whole lot of ‘Malt Whisky A’, so that it can no longer be
sold as a single malt whisky. Distilleries like Glenfiddich sell a lot of this ‘off brand’ whisky to traders.

A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  J  |  K  |  L  |  M  |  N  |  O  |  P  |  Q  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  XYZ


A teetotaller is a person who never drinks a single drop of alcohol - not even malt whisky.
It’s true that this person might be missing out on a lot of fun, but he or she also avoids some possible health
problems. Ethanol might not be nearly as toxic as methanol, but frequent consumption of large quantities of
alcohol is still detrimental to one’s health. People struggling with moderation could benefit from abstinence.


Wines can be classified by the grape variety and the terroir (region) where those grapes were grown.
The idea of Scotch whisky regions was popularised by whisky writer Michael Jackson in the 1980s and
1990s - a time when many in Scotland looked with envy at the ‘boom’ of the wine world. Adding ‘local’
mystique to the story of malt whisky did wonders for its marketing, but the factual basis was questionable.

Triple Distillation

Every time a spirit is distilled, the ABV (alcohol percentage) increases. However, that also means that
there is less room for the other components that give the spirit its flavour. Almost all Scotch malt whisky is
distilled twice, which makes sense. Why would you want to remove the complex fragrances and flavours that
set single malts apart from simpler spirits? Auchentoshan is the only distillery still using triple distillation.

Toasting (1)

The toasting of a cask is the light charring of the inside. Adding ‘smoky’ flavours to the spirit might seem
like an important reason for the toasting of whisky casks, but this is actually just a fairly a minor side-effect.
One of the effects of this treatment Is an increase of the interaction between the maturing spirit and the
wood of the cask. This adds some ‘woody’ traits to the spirit as one might expect, but that is just the tip
of the iceberg. Many compounds are involved and the ‘transmutations’ can be very complex.


The straight tumbler with a flat bottom is widely known as ‘the’ whisky glass, but this type of glassware
was actually designed to hide the smell of its contents, not enhance them. That’s fine for blends with a lot
of grain whisky in them, but it would be a shame to serve a fine single malt whisky in such a glass.

Toasting (2)

The practice of ‘toasting’ a person or a special occasion has been a custom in Europe for centuries.
A toast with a glass of wine or whisky can insert a moment of levity to formal proceedings - and add to
the sense of camaraderie at more informal occasions.


A tun is the largest ‘standard’ cask size in the old imperial system that was used in the UK for centuries.
Its name may have been derived from a Dutch word for cask (ton) and contains roughly 955 litres. Due to
the rate between contents and wood surface this cask type is mostly used for storage and not so much for
the maturation of spirits. The smaller the cask, the faster the maturation of its contents.

(* The old technology used for Malt Madness doesn’t allow me to present the information in the most user-friendly
way possible. Check out my new personal website for a fresh attempt at a site, covering a wider range of topics.

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