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Savory Scotches

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Rigmorole started a discussion

Let's compile a list here of savory scotches with palates that have "meaty" flavors.

For me, a savory scotch also might resemble pleasant evocations of pickled foods, eggs, and other spicy, tangy, relishing, or piquant flavors.

Savory scotches are not merely sweet, nor are they merely smoky or peaty. Rather, they are in a separate category, with some overlapping into sweet and peaty some of the time, depending upon the whisky.

Also, some whiskies have predominantly savory noses and then lapse into sweet palates. Likewise, a sweet palate can sometimes turn into a savory finish. Normally though, at least for me, a "savory" scotch has a predominately savory palate.

For our purposes here, let's try to help others discover scotches in which the primary flavors are savory, rather than sweet or peaty.

Here are some examples of savory scotches that I've tasted:

Independent craft bottlings of Clynelish and Brora have ham-like flavors at times. Longrow, Hazelburn, and Old Pulteney also contain savory palates, depending upon the year and type.

Can you recall a savory scotch that you have tasted? Share with us. Try to be as precise as possible with years and names.

7 years ago

15 replies

Rigmorole replied

Cheese-like flavors are also savory.

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

Wills replied

The Glen Els Ember which I reviewed recently comes to my mind for savory whisky. It's not a Scotch though and I know it is not widely available.

I'd like to taste more Clynelish (and ofc also Brora) to get a touch for those waxy notes. I guess this also has to do with the savory feeling you refer to. Which IB are you thinking of @rigmorole?

I guess that in generell the heavy sherried peatmonsters like Uigeadail, Lagavulin DE or some Port Charlottes for example tend to have this savory edge. This has to do with the campfire/BBQ smoke (and not the medicinical ones) and the thick mouthfeel. At least this is my feeling and I enjoy those drams alot!

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

systemdown replied

Interesting discussion.. off the top of my head these come to mind:

Deanston Virgin Oak (bitter herbs, earthy - at least in the middle and finish)

Mortlach OMC b.2011 (distillation year not entirely sure, early to mid 90's? Meaty and flinty.)

Clynelish 10yo Hedges & Butler (minerally, herbal, waxy)

I haven't listed anything that I thought was sweet - there are plenty I'd put in the category of "overlapping" flavour profiles that involve sweet / savory fusion i.e. most single malts that aren't straight out and out fruit bombs.

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

FMichael replied

Interesting topic indeed!

I might be the only one here, but I get a strong hints of olives (not sure if it's green, or black), along with au jus in Talisker 10 yr.

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

Okay, I had a bit more time to jot down some savories that I like.

Clynelish Exclusive Malts 15; Brora Exclusive Malts 24; Old Pulteney 12 and 17; Longrow CV; Longrow Gaja Barolo; Ardmore Traditional Cask; Talisker 10 and 18; Cragganmore 12; Older Ardbegs from years gone by; Laphroaig Cask Strength; Bruichladdich's last few Port Charlottes

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

Jonathan replied

This is a good question. I often have a dram before dinner, and I have noticed that certain whiskies make me hungry...

Among those that haven't been mentioned, Ardbeg 10, Caol Ila 12,Laphroaig 18,. Springbank and Kilchoman Machir Bay are savory. With Ardbeg and to a lesser extent with Caol Ila, I get something like candied bacon ( to the point where it is almost too rich). I agree that Uigeadail, Laga DE ,Talisker and (to a lesser degree) Clynelish are savory. I need to try it again (when I finally open my bottle) , but Laphroaig 18 also struck me as being savory when I tasted it. I also find some high rye bourbons, like OGD and Four Roses SB , to be savory.

I find it interesting when whisky drinkers who are vegetarian or vegan--or who have different cultural reference points for taste, like dried fish snacks--describe savory notes.

Here's an interesting piece about umami, the "fifth taste" (not sweet, sour, bitter or salty):: npr.org/templates/story/…

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

Wills replied

Wtf who is giving every single comment a thumbsdown? I will change this...

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

Nozinan replied


Not flavoured cream cheeses like strawberry

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

FMichael replied

@Wills I dunno - but I must admit it gave me a chuckle seeing all the negs.

7 years ago 2Who liked this?


When I think of "savory" I lean toward @systemdown's impression of Deanston Virgin Oak: herbs. I also think of savory as being exactly the opposite of sweet.

I recently picked up some Braeval 18 year old, cask number 159162, 52.1%, bottled by David Stirk's Creative Whisky Company. Both on the nose and the mouth my first thought was thyme. Later came rosemary and oregano. The whisky is most unusual and absolutely delicious.

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

Onibubba replied

I wanted to take some time to reply to this... To compose my thoughts. This may be my favorite descriptor of single malt scotch. To me, savory can envelop sweet. Savory is mouth watering. Savory is crispy pork belly, unagi sushi, rotisserie chicken. Sweet, salty, smokey...Not fruity, not vanilla, definitely not medicinal. Umami is a wonderful example of what I consider to be savory. The knees absolutely buckle.

Clynelish has a meaty, salty, honey comb taste that exemplifies this word. Have you ever taken a bite of straight honey comb? You should.

Young Islay bombs such as Laphroaig Triple Wood and Ardbeg Alligator have a tangy BBQ sauce sheen to them. Hot sweet saltly pickles. Warm salted cashews. Christ, I am drooling as I type!

Ardbeg Ardbog falls into this catagory, and I love it for that. Salted sweet roasted meat. Sheer viking shit going on here!

Talisker has a ton of savory notes. If I could get a combination of the smell of the 10 YO and the taste of the 18 YO, I would be in heaven.

Old Putleney 17 and 21 are briney and sweet and succulent. Chicken soup with the richest broth imaginable.

When I first got into scotch, I was told that a "meaty" descriptor was considered a negative. As if bacon could ever be "bad."

7 years ago 5Who liked this?

FMichael replied

More negs - lol...Apparently someone's 2 yr old got a hold of daddy's computer, or that individual is acting like a 2 yr old.

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

Ol_Jas replied

If we're talking whisk(e)y -- and not just Scotch -- then surely Balcones Brimstone belongs in this thread. If anything tastes like liquid meat, it does. Whether you like this is a drastically different proposition. (I think it's borderline nasty. Brimstone might test Onibubba's "could bacon could ever be bad?" challenge.)

By the way, Onibubba, your summary of Ardbeg Ardbog is one of the best-ever tasting note one-liners!

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

@two-bit-cowboy, just gave you a plus. Interesting tips. the 18 year Braevel is hard to find. The Signatory 12 not so hard, but the 18 sounds more intriguing. I'll keep my eyes peeled. I guess the malt releases are somewhat rare because Braevel's "bread and butter" goes into supplying alcohol for Pernod? Not sure. I think I read that somewhere on Connosr. Take care!

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

@Onibubba, as usual, you have outdone yourself here. Well said. Lots of "meat and potatoes" to mull over in your comments. . . .

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

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