Flavour Behaviour @ Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Back when I was a tour guide at Oban Distillery, we’d always try and match a whisky to an individual’s personality.  If the visitors could be described as a big softie, they’d be walking out the door with a bottle of Dalwhinnie or Glenkinchie.  Strong and robust?  Talisker or Lagavulin should be your malt of choice.  And everyone in-between was recommended either Oban or Cragganmore.  Not very scientific, right?

So step forward the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Dr Adam Moore, a psychologist and research scientist from Edinburgh University, who have attempted to formally match whisky drinkers to their ideal malt with a new Flavour Behaviour Test.

The Background
It all started last December, when my partner and I joined dozens of other whisky fans to help gather the initial data. This involved taking a fairly substantial personality test, which measures the ‘Big 5’ personality dimensions, followed by a sampling of a dozen whiskies, which we rated from 0 to 100.

The test was repeated at a number of locations across the world, with more than 300 volunteers taking part, before Dr Moore crunched the numbers and developed an algorithm to predict which whisky flavours are suited to different personality types.  And the Society is now putting the algorithm to the test, with Flavour Behaviour events throughout the Edinburgh festivals.

The Test
In an intimate private bar in the Society’s newly refurbished Queen Street venue, we whipped out our phones and answered 35 multiple-choice questions about our own personalities, after which our type would be determined.  I ended up as “The Perfect Norm” – described as “a very moderate character, with no one clear dominant personality trait”. Sounds pretty boring, right

The Results
Thankfully, the whisky poured ended up being pretty close to the sort of malt I’d normally opt for, falling into the “Juicy, Oak & Vanilla” category.  The test also recommended two further whiskies, which sat on their side of this on SMWS’s flavour profiling diagram.  Of all three, I’d say the last one – which turned out to be a Cragganmore – was closest in character to the whisky I normally drink…but who am I to argue with science!

Flavour Behaviour is a great bit of fun and the small groups meant everyone could compare results, as well as having some general whisky chat.  The sessions run until the end of the Edinburgh festivals and are priced at £15 a pop.  But don’t worry if you can’t get along before the end of August – the Society plans to have the test available in its bars by the autumn.