When the newly launched whisky bar Black Rock opened its doors in March, London's barflies fell in love with its stunning and impressive centre piece, namly the giant tree trunk which acts as a table and cocktail aging station, running through the middle of the bar.
And with good reason - it's frankly gobsmacking.
However we spied something equally interesting going on behind the glass cabinet doors which display Black Rock's whisky collection.
Rather than classify the bottles by region or brand the team have tasted their way through each whisky and organised them according to six different flavour groups and whether they're heavy and light. We grabbed five minutes with co-owner Tristain Stephenson to find out more.
Why did you decide to classify your whisky collection?
To be honest, it felt like the obvious way to do it. Most bars group by country of origin and distillery, which makes it very easy to find an individual bottle but doesn’t help much when it comes to choosing a specific style of whisky. Regionality is becoming increasingly irrelevant in Scotch. We split global whisky in to six broad flavour groups and then arranged them by intensity or lightness of flavour. It’s basically a flavour map.
Is this a more accessible approach to whiskies for consumers?
We think so. If you’re a novice you can explore whisky by flavours that are easy to relate to (smoke, spice, sweet, balance, fragrance, fruit). If you know what you’re doing you can navigate to bottles that sit close to your favourites and be safe in the knowledge that they’re going to taste similar.
Have you paid any attention to where brands say their products fit or have you gone on your own tastes alone?
Completely based on our own tasting sessions. If our guests think something is out of place we will of course listen to them and be open to moving things around… it’s a continuous work in progress.
When you use the words light and heavy what flavours are you telling people they'll find?
Lighter whiskies tend to be younger (but not always) and are generally brighter, cleaner and more nuanced. Heavy whiskies tend to be older, and have a more robust and persistent flavour profile.