Confused about which malt whisky to buy? A St Andrews University researcher has produced a set of guidelines to help palates become more discerning.
David Wishart of St Andrews's department of management has compiled a consumer-friendly classification of whiskies based on their flavour, drawing on published tasting notes for more than 80 single malts.
Using "Clustan", a statistical software package he developed, Dr Wishart compiled a list of categories including "smoky", "medicinal", "fruity", "nutty" and "spicy". The final result is a list of ten distinctive types of single malts, from strongly sherried malts to heavily peated, pungent Islay malts.
"In a good off-licence, you will find a myriad of malt whiskies covering a wide range of whisky styles, from Macallan to Laphroaig," Dr Wishart said.
"The classification is designed to help new or casual whisky drinkers find their way round this maze. If you like a particular malt, then those in the same cluster should also be of interest to your palate."
Dr Wishart said the classification should also help distillers, both to classify new distillations or to design marketing campaigns.