Tastings are an enjoyable experience if you know a trick or two to do it better and enjoy the whisky.
Usually when you’re starting to get into the world of whisky more closely, you start to seek for a guide on how to taste whisky. Remember not to take whiskey tasting too seriously. After all, it’s supposed to be fun. But there are few pointers you should know about
Here is a guide for the man of taste who delves into the secrets of whisky.
Understanding the Basics
Types of Whisky: Explore various types, including Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and Irish whiskey. Each has distinct characteristics based on ingredients, distillation processes, and aging methods.
Glassware: First thing you should think about: whisky glasses. Proper glass won’t change the taste of whiskey but it will certainly do justice for good aromas. Use a tulip-shaped glass to concentrate aromas. This allows you to fully appreciate the whiskey’s nuances.
Color Examination: Observe the color; it can give clues about the whiskey’s age and cask type. Older whiskies tend to have richer, deeper hues.
Nose (Aroma): Swirl the whiskey gently and take in the aroma. Note scents like vanilla, caramel, fruit, or smokiness. Remember tht swirling the whisky is not mandatory. You’ve probably seen experts do this. You can do it but it’s not necessary because whiskey is so strong. It doesn’t need swirling to spread the aromas better.
Take your time with the dram. Whisky evolves in the glass, let it rest and do everything with anticipation. Take your time while nosing and tasting it. Use both of you’re nostrils one after the other and remember to take two or three more sniffs after the first one. And you can keep on doing this whole night if you want to. Worst thing you can do is not give that aged spirit enough time to open up and give its best to you. Same goes with tasting the whisky: chew it and let it leave an impression on your palate.
Sip and Savor: Take a small sip, allowing the whiskey to coat your palate. Note flavors, mouthfeel, and any lingering aftertaste.
Whisky shouldn’t be too warm
Store your bottles properly: vertically and not in a hot or humid place. Don’t warm your tasting glass either (with your hand).
Ice or Water?
Some prefer whiskey neat, while others add a splash of water or a large ice cube. We suggest to add water to your whisky. It usually changes the tone of your dram: water opens up the whiskey. Water can improve your whiskey or sometimes it may not get the best out of your dram. But at least you’ve experienced how water changes the dram. Just few drops will do it, or with cask strength whiskey you might need more than few drops.
Pairing with Food
Complement the whiskey’s flavors with food. For example, peaty Scotch pairs well with smoked cheese, and Bourbon can go with dark chocolate.
Each whiskey-producing region has its unique style. Scotch from Islay tends to be peaty, while Speyside Scotch is often sweeter and fruitier. Bourbon from Kentucky has its own distinctive character.
Understand the impact of aging. Older whiskies often have more complex flavors due to prolonged exposure to the cask.
Collecting and Investing
If you’re interested in collecting, research limited editions and distilleries known for quality. Some whiskies appreciate in value over time.
Respect the Craft
Learn about the whiskey-making process. Appreciating the craftsmanship enhances the overall experience.
Whiskey is often best enjoyed with good company. Share your discoveries with friends and fellow enthusiasts. Enjoy a whisky tasting with friends and compare notes. Sometimes a friend will mention a note and you’ll have a eureka moment as they are describing something you couldn’t quite put your finger on. As you learn from them, they’ll learn from you too. It’s also extremely important to articulate what you smell and taste if you want to move from knowing something smells familiar, to being able to attach the right word quickly.
Savor whisky responsibly. Enjoy in moderation, especially if you’re exploring high-proof or cask-strength varieties.
Develop your palate over time. As your taste evolves, revisit whiskies you’ve tried before and discover new favorites.
Be patient, it takes time
You’re not going to be able to write great whisky tasting and nosing notes on your first dram. Or your second, or your tenth, or your hundredth. Unless you’re one of those lucky people born with a highly developed palate, improving your skills takes many years and a lot of practice. Luckily, it’s a fun journey that’s full of exciting new experiences along the way.
Ultimately, your taste is unique. Don’t be swayed by trends; focus on what brings you enjoyment.
Remember, the world of whiskey is vast, and everyone’s journey is different. Whether you’re a seasoned aficionado or just starting, the key is to savor and appreciate the intricate flavors that make each whiskey distinct.