Classification of Single Malt Whiskies by Flavour

David Wishart
Department of Management, University of St. Andrews,
St. Katharine's West, The Scores, St. Andrews KY16 9AL, Scotland
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We describe the cardinal flavours that are found in single malt whiskies, and explain how the production and maturation processes influence these flavours. To simplify the comparison of malt whiskies, a standardized profile of 12 cardinal flavours was developed from around 1000 tasting notes and over 500 whisky terms. The principal malt whiskies from all the Scottish distilleries were then profiled and classified by flavour (Wishart, 2000).

This helps answer questions like - (1) My store offers a bewildering selection of malt whiskies, so what should I buy? (2) Dad drinks Macallan but I want to give him another malt that's similar in flavour which he will also enjoy? (3) Can you suggest six malts for my cabinet that illustrate the range of single malt whiskies?

Whisky Classified: Choosing Single Malts by Flavour is the first book to classify single malt whiskies by flavour. It does not rate whiskies by marks-out-of-ten for quality, or describe them by regional styles. It is a consumer-friendly guide that takes the confusion and guesswork out of whisky-buying, and aims to help the novice or present-buyer make the right purchase of Scotland's national drink. It is also an interesting application of classification methodology for a non-technical readership, and arguably the most widely sold book derived from a product segmentation.

This paper extends the previous work by developing TypeAnalyst, a retailing aid to identify the appropriate cluster and nearest neighbours of new whisky expressions. The presentation concludes with a tutored tasting sponsored by Aberfeldy 12yo, Aberlour 10yo, Ardbeg 10yo, Auchentoshan 10yo, Balblair 16yo, Balvenie 12yo, Balvenie DoubleWood 12yo, Benromach 18yo, Bowmore 12yo, Bruichladdich 10yo, Bunnahabhain 10yo, Dalmore 12yo, Deanston 10yo, Edradour 10yo, Glen Deveron 10yo, Glenfarclas 12yo, Glenfiddich 12yo, Glen Garioch 10yo, Glengoyne 10yo, Glenlivet 12yo, Glenmorangie 12yo, Glenmorangie Madeira Finish 12yo, Glenmorangie Sherry Finish 12yo, Glen Moray 10yo, Glenrothes 1989, Highland Park 18yo, Isle of Jura Superstition, Macallan Cask Strength, Laphroaig 10yo, Old Pulteney 12yo, Speyburn 10yo, Springbank 10yo, Strathisla 12yo, Tamdhu 10yo and Tobermoray 10yo.


LAPOINTE, F-J., AND LEGENDRE, P. (1994): A Classification of Pure Malt Scotch Whiskies, J. App. Stats, 43, 237-257.

WISHART, D. (2000): Classification of Single Malt Whiskies. In: H. A. L. Kiers, J-P. Rasson, P. J. F. Groenen, and M. Schader (Eds.): Data Analysis, Classification and Related Methods. Springer, Berlin, 89-94.

WISHART, D. (2002): Whisky Classified: Choosing Single Malts by Flavour. Pavilion Books, London, UK, 2002 and Trafalgar Square Books, Vermont, USA, 2003:


clustering whiskies, flavour profiling, marketing, retailing, segmentation, TypeAnalyst, whisky classified