Author sampling a not so small whisky.
The Scottish Word:


First the neb: A dirl o a stang tae mha neb richt awa wi the snell smeeky reek o a choked lum aboon a pew ilk an auld dug oot o the oxter o a lang deid gaberlunzie. Ahn then there’s a langsome efter tint o scowdered hair richt afore the steuch o yin’s actual scowdered hair o yer ain neb hits ye.

Noo the taste: a neckfu o chillies tae stert, Scots Bonnets ah think, afore soor ploom oer eaki osie wi gean an grossel oerhert wi lime an a peedie o weel chawed baccy wi jist a hint o hoof an horn glue aneath.

Noo tae the finish: efter the sneyster o mha thrapple’s swaged ahn the swellin’s geen there jist micht be a langsome dint o a waff o the hearst smuik wi the green girse o a simmer dim. Eneuch tae tempt ye tae tak anither dram.

Ah’ll try agin efter Hogmanay. Jings! That’s noo.


smeek, smeik: fumes from burning, smoke, unpleasant burning smell.

First the nose: A ringing sting to my nose right away with the acrid smoky reek of a choked chimney over a breeze like an old dog out of the armpit of a long dead tramp. And then there’s a lingering after tint of scorched hair right before the stench of one’s actual scorched nose hair hits one.

Now the taste: a neck full of chillies to start, Scots Bonnets I think, before sour plum balanced with rowan berry and gooseberry overlaid with lime and a touch of well chewed tobacco with just a hint of hoof and horn glue underneath.

Now to the finish: after the scorching of my throat’s subsided and the swelling’s gone there might just be a lingering dint of a waft of the harvest intertwined with the green grass of the all night twilight of the northern midsummer day. Enough to tempt one to take another dram.

I’ll try again after New Year’s Eve. Gosh! That’s now.

The Scottish Word: smeek with its definition and its meaning illustrated and captioned with the word used in context in the Scots language and in English.

Serious Whisky Tasting.

I followed a group of whisky tasters on social media to laugh at the over the top language they deployed.


It’s my ignorance that’s on show here.
I used to think those discussing whisky flavours were daft, and used daft words.

I hadn’t been aware that something as subjective as tasting would have an agreed common vocabulary (even though the terms sounds mad to the uninitiated) so folk can compare the experience of flavour, smell and colour consistently and meaningfully.

Tasters do just that. Matching smells and flavours to things they’ve agreed upon that even us non tasters find meaningful and familiar.


They can be categorised for example:
Fruits; your lime, cherry, pineapple, raspberry, grape etc. fresh and dried. Floral; apple blossom, cut hay etc. Sweet; things like vanilla, chocolate, toffee, honey and so on. Nuts and Grains; such as malt, oats, almonds etc. And then there are the dark flavours; oak, leather, chilli, tobacco etc. Then the smoky and salty; peat, wood smoke, roasted coffee, seaweed and such.

Nosing Wheels.

Some tasters have a wheel much like an artist might have a colour wheel where you have the smells or tastes arranged around the circumference and the strength of each is measured from the centre to the edge. How many items you have on the wheel depends on how good you are as a taster and how complex is the thing you are smelling or tasting.

As you can imagine the patterns these nosing wheels make when filled in can be interesting. And this allows tasters tasting or smelling the same thing to make comparisons and even create an average out of a communal tasting.


So now I don’t find the ‘colourful’ descriptions funny. I understand now that they try to convey meaning – as near to objective as you can get – to share impressions between those who have palates that are able to recognise that sort of level of taste distinctions. To share.

The above is based mostly on linked to here and who have even come up with icons for the flavours. Don’t forget to check out the nosing wheel.

One thought on “Smeek.

  1. Hey I am outraged – I think you copied my Laphroaig tasting notes!

    Particularly in reference to the nosing bit.

    Although I may have written “old wet dog”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.