One of the whisky attributes / characteristics that is recorded for every whisky listed is 'Whisky Experience Level'
This is to be used as a guide for those new to whisky and its not to be taken literally.
There are 3 stages to the Whisky Experience Level
- Beginner - (To see all beginner whiskies in the database click here) (Link opens new window)
These whiskies are between the minimum 40% to 43% ABV - Someone new to whisky will be getting used to the flavours of a whisky, having a higher ABV will mean the whisky may be richer & more intense, possibly more off-putting to a new whisky drinker. As a rule whiskies of a lower ABV are generally more mellow, smoother or have a less intense taste.
They will have no peat or smoke, or, the level of peat/smoke is undetectable.
They may be at the more affordable end of the price spectrum. However there may be exceptions. If you are new to whisky and have a limited budget, we would not advise you spend over £50 for example on a whisky you have never tried, especially if you can't afford to waste the money when you could be buying two suitably priced bottles for the same money.
- Intermediate - (To see all intermediate whiskies in the database click here) (Link opens new window)
These Whiskies will be between 40% to 48% ABV (Sometimes a little higher). The alcohol presents more challenge, not only with more spirit burn, but, as the flavour will be richer, flavours more complex & possibly an older whisky which requires more time in the glass to get the most out of the experience.
They will possibly be light to medium peat or smoke levels. They would potentially be overwhelming to someone new to whisky - We don't want to put people off enjoying whisky, often trying a Peated whisky can turn people off ANY whisky from a single experience, but everyone is different and some people embrace the peat right away.
These whiskies won't be well aged eg, 25 Year Old, as the palate needs to get used to experiencing a range of cask types, flavour profiles and ageing to be able to detect and appreciate some of the subtle nuances, but again this is generalised, lots of new drinkers may want to go in deep as soon as possible.
These will be of most price points, however the mega expensive whisky will probably not feature in this category, but millionaires can be intermediate whisky drinkers, the choice of what to spend is of course, entirely yours.
- Advanced. This is everything else. (To see all Advanced Whiskies in the database click here) (new window)
46% ABV to Cask Strength.
Well Aged Whisky. As a rule 18 year old whiskies and above would fit into this category due to the complexity of the flavour and intensity that the wood may bring. However, some well aged whisky may have a flavour which even a beginner would appreciate.
Mega expensive whiskies. A beginner to whisky could have a large budget, so we aren't saying they can't enjoy expensive whisky, but it would be foolish to spend several hundred pounds on a whisky and not have much experience with whisky and find the whisky wasn't for them.
I would hope most people would agree that having a passion is an expensive interest, with so much whisky choice available, it can be overwhelming to know which whisky to try or not, or to know when is the right time to try them.
Buying a bottle of whisky without trying the whisky first is a gamble, especially when it's different to what we have tried previously. While the whisky doesn't go off, having a bottle sitting on the shelf untouched for months or years until such a time as you are ready to try it again is a waste of resources when you could have spent that money on a bottle that was more suited to you palate at the time you bought it.
On occasion you may see a whisky classed as for example 'Intermediate' there has characteristics which suggests it may be better suited to a different class, this is simply because each attribute of the whisky was considered and a decision made which class was the whisky best suited too, again the decision is not to be taken literally but used as a guide.
To summarise I would not be recommending an Octomore or a 30 year old Highland Park to a beginner.