Originally Posted by Gibonius
I just pulled up a couple papers on it. I'll read 'em tomorrow and see if anything interesting comes up. Doubt they'll get as specific as medicinal flavor vs other notes though.
I am pleasantly surprised! Found a paper in the Journal of The Institute of Brewing, title was "Origins of Flavor in Whiskies and a Revised Flavor Wheel," and it had a nicely comprehensive listing of the chemical roots of various flavors and even mouthfeel components. Very nice.
They say that "medicinal" notes come from cresols, while "peaty" comes from phenols. I'm not entirely sure why the cresols would taste like iodine, perhaps they trigger the same flavor receptors as iodine itself. The paper doesn't mention them being iodized compounds, although that's also possible I guess.
The "flavor" components are mostly aldehydes and esters. They break it all down pretty in depth.
The specific flavor compound of each whisky depends on the mash bill, how it's fermented (which sugars end up in the final product), and what's in the smoke and how hot it gets. All the reactions are detailed.
Also, ~15% of the UK population has a genetic mutation which renders them much less sensitive to phenols, which radically changes how they perceive the whisky. Interesting stuff.
Could send it to anybody that's interested. Pretty heavy stuff though.