Whiskey tasting is becoming an increasingly popular pastime. So, naturally people are interested in how to taste whiskey. There is definitely a right and wrong way to do it. We tell you the best way to get the most out of your whiskey tasting opportunities and tours.
How to taste whiskey – a step by step guide
- Choose a glass with a narrower top than bottom
Pour yourself a small measure of single malt whisky scotch whisky. A glass that is narrower at the top than the bottom is best. This type of glass allows the aroma to gather and be focused near you nose. Remember, that what you taste has a lot to do with smell. If you do not believe me, just try putting a peg on your nose and a blindfold on then eating two of your favorite foods. You will be stunned by how little you taste when you cannot smell. In fact, a lot of people find it impossible to tell these foods apart, especially if they have a similar texture.
2. Do not warm the glass
Hold it your glass by the stem. Do not warm the glass in your hand. When you warm or chill the whiskey it changes the way the taste molecules react. So, if you are tasking warm or cold whiskey you are not really going to know how it tastes. If you want you can have a bottle of chilled still Scottish spring water to hand to cleanse your palette.
- Check the color
Hold the glass up to the light. Color does not necessarily show a single malts age: rather it indicates how the spirit was matured. Since a cast imparts color and flavor, you may hazard that a golden hued single malt was matured in sherry oak. A very pale whisky may suggest to you that, predominantly, bourbon casks have been used. Such precognition of quality and flavor has some value, however, you should keep to yourself. At least for the moment.
- Look at the Legs
Hold the glass at an angle and rotate it briskly, washing the inside walls of the glass with whisky. Hold the glass up straight and watch the liquid forming the ‘legs’ as it runs down the sides of the glass. Over time, single malts give up their lightest spirits to the ‘angel’s share’. So, the slower the legs the more viscous the liquid, the older the whisky.
- Nose the Whisky
Hold your glass at arms length then pass it smoothly under your nose, breathing in deeply through the nose as you do. Think. Imagine. ‘What do those smells remind you of?’ Try to remember that ‘signature’. Now pass the glass back under your nose and repeat the process.
- Taste the Spirit
Form your tongue into a small spoon shape in your mouth. Sip from the glass, letting the single malt nestle on your tongue. In your own mind, you will feel tongue-tied as you try to articulate the complex, constantly changing aromas and flavors.
- Add a little fresh Spring Water
Don’t drown it. Just a little water a few drops should be enough. Swirl the glass, (to mix the watery aqua and the oily aqua vitae.) You’ll find the resulting mixture surprisingly mellow and drinkable. But don’t gulp. Take a small mouthful of whisky. Purse your lips and take in some air. Note all the different aromatics, the infinite notes and subtleties, the universe distilled into a drop of whisky.