Delicate. The whiskies at this end of the axis normally use no peat in the malting process.
Smoky. Single malts found in the two smoky quadrants all contain discernible levels of peat, which is burned in the malting process.
Light. This end of the vertical axis houses whiskies whose characteristics exhibit fresh flavours: green grass, soft fruits, cereal. Such flavours tend to reflect the processes followed by a distillery, such as fermentation or size and shape of the stills.
Rich. Whiskies at the rich end of the axis contain characteristics often derived from the nature of the wood used during maturation. Whether a cask is first fill or refill will make a difference to flavour.
Different people will inevitably have different tastes (that whole taste bud distribution being different for everybody thing) but these kinds of things are great for identifying new Scotches to try out if you have found one or two you already know you like.
And yes, by posting this at 7am local time I am, in fact, suggesting that a bolt of lightning will not, in fact, strike you down if you choose to have a shot on a Sunday morning or the like. Just saying.
Top map concept by malts.com.
Bottom map concept by Kevin Schau, graphic by Christopher Ingraham via
Quoted text via malts.com.