Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by French Cuff Consignment, Dec 14, 2006.
What else could it be?
Like the link that was posted to prove that spring water was the best and ended up, if you actually read the link, asserting (rightly or wrongly) that distilled water was the least likely to affect flavour, I got this link from someone else in the thread:
Specifically, the SWRI Revised wheel, and especially thewhiskymag wheel, and the Macallan wheel, as well. The wheels can be enlarged by clicking on them and, with some difficulty but accuracy enough, can be read.
Also from http://whiskyscience.blogspot.com/2011/02/peat.html
More there on peat flavours.
From what I read (anywhere..including the HP site--another link offered up in this discussion) nothing is ever mentioned about sea water or seaweed lending an iodine or medicinal flavour profile...it all comes back the the phenols that originate in spagnum moss based peat. If I understand correctly, it is the phenols and nothing else that is responsible for the medicinal flavours.
I readily admit that that flies in the face of what I thought I knew but I'm willing to be schooled in any of this as long as it's not the kind of schooling that fish engage in.
Correlations and statistics classes notwithstanding, I suspect that Isaac Asimov had it right when he said "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
Well, only the Macallan wheel actually specifies a mineral flavor (iodine) and ascribes it to phenols, so I don't actually think what's there is determinative.
The most important quote on the peat page IMO is this section,:
It describes a broader range of a chemicals than just phenols, and if you follow through to one of the sources cited on the page describing salty smoke flavors, the abstract mentions a range of other compounds including NaCL:
Not trying to be contradictory, but I think the ambiguity on the whisky pages probably reflects either uncertainty or a level of complexity that can't be easily explained to a lay audience. On top of that, there's the effects of barrel aging, chill filtering, etc.
Instead of diving down the rabbit hole of flavor science, I think I'll just stick to drinking the stuff and leave the debate to the rest of you.
Not so...look again more closely at the Whiskymag wheel. Click on it...you get a larger image. And the SWRI wheel specifies phenols as the origins of medicinal flavours.
I understand that other flavours come from other materials and other processes. Even the disparate depths from which the peat is cut. I got all that. But the only ascription of iodine or medicinal flavours comes from the phenols....ie. Spagnum moss peat.
I don't mean to be contrary or to belabour this but I have to remind you that you started this investigation/conversation with your remarks about peat vs. smoke.
I agree with you...I'd rather drink it than talk about it but once raised it can't be dismissed with a wave of the hand.
IOW, if you have evidence one way or the other, I'm listening but so far I haven't seen it. That said, I'll drop it if there isn't any evidence.
But as I said...I'm willing to be schooled. I'm open minded.
Hmmm - I'm a little confused. The Whiskymag wheel seems to categorize medicinal as part of a range of 'peaty' flavors but doesn't specify the chemical origin. I do see your point about the SWRI wheel, but I remain a little skeptical given that the other sources seem to suggest greater complexity to the question.
I skipped over it before, but I notice that the Wine Wheel categorizes 'medicinal' under the Phenolic category, and 'smoky' under 'Burned'. My problem is that the wheels seem to be imperfect amalgams of subjective flavor impression and chemistry, and I'm not willing to dive into the literature to sort it all out.
With respect to sphagnum versus other sources, doesn't the following passage suggest the importance of other other types of plants in the peat, depending on the geographic source?
Quote: Anyhow - fair point that I kind of kicked this off. I was just trying to express a subjective difference I find between Scotches. I think you've raised a fair point that it's not clear where the iodine flavors actually originate, but the flavor wheels and literature do seem to support a distinction between the medicinal peat-smoke flavors typical of Islays and wood-smoke flavors in HP and others. I certainly don't have a definitive answer on the chemistry but I'm content to leave the issue to others inclined to dig deeper. That said, not trying to shut down the conversation. Have at it!
You're correct about the the whiskymag wheel but from the earlier quote I posted, spagnum moss peat is "[COLOR=FF00AA]very different in structure consisting of a sort of polyphenolic network. Sphagnum moss is therefore richer in p-hydroxyl-phenols instead of the usual lignin-derived compounds. Therefore burnt sphagnum releases more simple phenols[/COLOR]."
So what I take from that is that peat, consisting as it does of spagnum moss with incidental "foreign" grassy and woody materials in it, will always be high in phenol producing material. Ipso facto, peaty=phenolic.
And yes, other materials are important but unless I'm missing something none of them are associated with either a "smokey flavour" or "peat reek" (see Whiskymag wheel) or iodine/medicinal flavours. The iodine and medicinal flavours can be mitigated in all sorts of ways but the wheels seem to suggest that what we experience as "smoke" in Scotch is mostly related to phenols simply because phenols are the main byproduct of burning peat. Speysides never feel the peat and they are singularly...and characteristically...lacking in smoke.. IOW, peaty=phenolic=smokey=medicinal(maybe..depending on deliberate mitigation).
Hey, I'm just trying to learn something here and not "swim with the fishes." I'd rather not pontificate or pose as an expert (I'm not) esp. if I really don't know what I'm talking about. It's too easy to get caught out if you're simply parroting the consensus opinion/group think.
That and I'm mostly responding to other posters at this point. If someone quotes a remark I made by way of taking me to task...I'll generally respond.
No worries on my end - I am no expert on Scotch chemistry, and this is all just in good fun. Definitely not trying to take anyone to task.
My reading of the short passage I posted above suggests that there are at least three important categories of chemicals that can come from peat: guiacol from bog plants, syringol from deciduous plants, and phenol from sphagnum. Islay peat is dominated by guiacol and phenol; Orkney peats are relatively balanced between all three types, and mainland peat is heavier in syringol. So I think you're correct that what we refer to as 'peaty' flavors are coming from sphagnum based Islay peat. BUT...(sorry to be difficult) not all peat produces that flavor profile (which would be more accurately called phenolic). The different composition of Orkney peat bestows a more heathery and woodsmoke character on HP (although with a little bit of phenolic character in there), and the mainland peats give perhaps a more purely woodsmoke character.
Does that make sense or do you think I've missed (or misread) something?
My reading of the entire page from which that passage was drawn from suggests to me that it is primarily phenols that create smoke flavour (aroma may be another issue altogether.)
"The smoky flavour of a peat reek is supposedly coming from simple phenols, such as phenol, its alcohol-derivatives and creosols, and to some extent from guaiacols, furans and pyrans. Syringyl-compounds are not thought to be of major significance in producing smoky aromas."[/COLOR]
The flavour wheels seem to confirm that assessment.
I'm also reading that while guaiacols and other non-phenolic compounds produce smokey aromas (albeit different aromas than phenols), the data seems less clear (and maybe not significant) with regard to any direct smokey flavours that they contribute.
That said, without the syringols and the guaiacols peated single malts might not be palatable:
"Different carbonyl-compounds seem to soften the phenolic aromas. Without the carbonyls and guaiacols the phenols can taste ashy, sharp and hard, whereas together they produce aromas of smoked meat, savory "maggi" and burnt sugar."[/COLOR]
I could be mistaken in all of this...when we first began talking about this I didn't know a syringol from a hole in the ground. A lot of it is still way over my head and pay grade. What's more I thought...as many here still do...that the iodine came from seaweed and seawater.
And while it is true...as someone said here...that webpages and so called "experts" need to be regarded with a somewhat jaundiced eye, I've not seen any real experts weigh in on this to gainsay it. So for now, I'm inclined to accept the "experts" that we do have access to. And I suspect we are at least closer to the facts than when we began. For now...
As for taking me to task...I'm not worried in that regard. It does happen however, and as a result my policy has always been to respond, out of simple courtesy, to anyone who quotes me in a spirit of generosity, and out of necessity to those who quote me with less than generous intent. The only reason I brought it up was that you seemed to be wanting to bow out of the discussion ...and that's fine by me but all any of us have to do to end a particular tack in the conversation, is walk away.
Yeppers. Good stuff.
Bought a Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (port cask finish) to give a try.
Would like to hear what you think. I tend to like most of the "unique cask finished" whiskeys.
I like Glenmorangie Artien, although I'm not good enough to describe it much.
For teh first time ever on SF, I shall write: TL; DNR. Massive reading for my last overloaded semester of law school limits my ambition....
I regret to note that I read at least 30 pages of journal writing about scotch chemistry.
Separate names with a comma.