You drink whisky for a while now but there are still some questions you might have. How do you taste whisky properly? Where do I start? How do I get the flavours out of it? Is it like wine tasting? In this article I will explain in 5 easy steps how to taste whisky and you will find out it is much easier than you think…
This is how you taste whisky:
1. Get yourself a decent glass
Ok, if you just want to enjoy a whisky, any glass will do. But the shape of your glassware can improve your tasting experience massively. The tumbler (the glasses you see in American movies and bars) is a very popular glass but because of the wide rim these should be avoided for tasting purposes. It makes the aromas dissapear too quickly. So forget the tumbler but go for a tulip shaped glass or a snifter. These glasses also have a foot which comes in handy so you don’t heat up your whisky.
2. The nose
No no no, don’t drink your whisky immediately! 😉 First things first, the nosing. The nosing is a good way to learn more about what you are drinking. Start with swirling your whisky around a little, this will help to unveil the aromas. Allow the whisky to settle. See how it drips down your glass? Looks beautiful doesn’t it. Now put your nose to the glass (not to closely the first time or it will burn your nose hair) and just smell. Repeat this a few times or as much as you want to. What do you smell? Does it remind you of anything? Don’t be too hasty and trying to smell something, just take your time. Keeping your mouth slightly open as you nose the whisky, this will help you to better discern and smell the different aromas.
3. The palate
Did the nosing made you curious? Ok good! Now it is time to taste your whisky. But not too fast, just take a small sip and savour it in your mouth. Slowly swirl it around your tongue to get the maximum flavours out of it. Now how is the mouthfeel? Can you feel the texture of the whisky? All whiskies do have another mouthfeel, some are creamier, thicker or oilier than others. Back to the tasting. Don’t be afraid if you are picking up other flavours than the people around you do, afterall everyone has a different taste. When you feel like you have gotten a good taste of your whisky, you can move on to the next step.
4. The finish
Yes the finish! You can swallow your sip now. When you swallow the whisky try to breath out a big amount of air through your nose. You may notice different kind of flavours. This is called the finish. Do you get anything more out of it? Is it a long finish or is it short? Could be dry or smooth. A good, lingering finish can give you all the highlights of the taste.
5. Water (optional)
Ok, this is a frequently asked question. I think it all comes down on personal taste. Always try your whisky in its natural state first, before adding water. A little bit of water can change the flavour profile of your whisky massively. I only use water if the whisky has a high alcohol level or if it’s bottled at cask strenght. Water should be added a few drops at a time to avoid ‘drowning’ the whisky. You can use a pipette for that. One other tip, don’t use ice as it closes off the flavour. That is not what we want of course.
Well that’s all folks. Just go slow and repeat all these steps. Practice a lot (But don’t become an alcholic 😉 ). You will see that it gets easier every time you try.