Whisky tasting like much other alcohol tasting has its specific techniques. Perhaps you have been invited to a whisky tasting and you have no idea what to do. Or you have decided to try something other than your regular drink and you have no idea how to decide which whisky is the best one.
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Follow this beginner’s guide to whisky tasting etiquette.
The type of glass used to taste whisky is very important as it plays a big role in the process of tasting. The shape of the glass for most should be a tulip-shaped glass or “spirits nosing” shaped glass.
This shape concentrates the fragrance of the whisky, which triggers your senses. Alternatives to this glass are a stemmed red wine glass or a brandy glass.
The shape of the glass adds to the science of tasting the whisky. The type of glass used is purely for how the taster should experience the taste and has nothing to do with the aesthetic of wine tasting.
Swirling is the next step in experiencing the whisky before actually tasting it. There is an art to swirling the glass. Swirling it around for a little bit allows the evaporation and the oxygen to reach the liquid. When this happens the whisky lets out its aromas for you to smell.
The purpose of this is to coat the inside of the glass with the whisky. It also leaves behind “legs” on the glass which can be identified as the lines of alcohol that are running along the inside of the glass from top to bottom.
Observing the legs
It is said that the legs can be the tell of whether the whisky is good or not. Thin or thick it will tell you a lot about the whisky you are about to taste.
The legs hint at the texture and what the whisky will feel like in your mouth.
It is simply the act of smelling the whisky before tasting it. After swirling the whisk you are meant to “nose” the whisky. This is the process in which you smell the nuances within the alcohol.
The tip here is to actually put your nose all the way into the glass, to experience the full aroma. Breathing gently through your nose, you should move the glass across each nostril around 3 or 4 times. This allows you to smell the undertones of the whisky.
Which could be sweet, smoky, heavy or rich. The more you sniff the more you will discover regarding its smell.
Yes, there are many steps before actually tasting the whisky. All those steps were imperative to the ultimate taste and adds so much to the experience of now tasting the whisky.
Ensuring that the whole inside of your mouth gets a full coating of the whisky allows the different parts of your mouth to taste the different notes. This essentially adds depth to the tasting experience.
You really want to pay attention to that texture that was mentioned before. Think about how the whisky feels in your mouth.
It is recommended that you move the whisky over and under your tongue as well as on the palette. Waiting for the initial burn of the whisky to go away before swallowing it.
The more sips you take the more you will taste and with the aromas you nosed you should now start tasting what you previously smelled.
This is when you take a moment to experience the aftertaste of the whisky. This is where you basically reach a conclusion that is of course a culmination of all the steps you had observed before getting to this point. The tastes you have experienced, the aromas you have experienced and what the whisky looked like.
These all add to the finish, the amount of time it takes you to experience this aftertaste is called “the length of the finish”.
Next time you are invited to a whisky tasting event or perhaps you are thinking of hosting one yourself. Remember these steps.