As one of the most discerning of drinks, whisky is something to be savoured. Get the best taste experience by knowing what to look for.
How to Taste Whisky
Discovering the Right Whisky for You
Whisky is a drink that carries with it a certain air of sophistication. It often feels like the sort of spirit that you enjoy in a cosy bar, settled into a wingback leather chair, with a book rested in one hand. Often drunk in its pure form or directly over ice, whisky has a distinctive taste which means that for many they have a love or hate relationship with it. Many people say that if you don’t like whisky, it is because you simply haven’t found the right one for you yet! Perhaps they are right, and if that is the case, then it’s time to discover more about the flavours this spirit can offer. There’s no doubt that there are a variety of ways to enjoy whiskey. Below you will find a few hints and tips on how to taste whisky and see which one works for you.
Where to Begin?
To start with, it may be a good idea to invest in some drams. These small sample sized bottles allow you to try out a range of whiskeys without having to commit to a full sized bottle which you may or may not enjoy. Choose a selection harking from different areas, not just Ireland and Scotland but also the likes of Japan and India. This will give you an excellent overview of the different flavours this drink can have. Many have different flavour profiles, and you may find you favour one style over another.
As noted before, whisky is a serious drink and so requires a serious glass to be served in. Traditional cut glass sets a sophisticated tone while a well-rounded bowl creates the spirit - giving you the best taste and smell.
The Tasting Experience
When you are all set up, it is time to get down to the actual tasting — as with wine, giving the measure a swirl in the glass before sipping allows the aromas to be released. Have a sniff and consider the tones you are getting, does it smell sweet or woody, smokey or grassy? Then ponder the same with the actual tasting. Often there will be different layers of taste, the initial feeling which may be warming or dry and the taste after it has been swallowed. Pay attention to each stage of the tasting and discover which elements you find most pleasing- you may be surprised!
At this tasting stage, it may be interesting to try out adding either a cube of ice or a splash of water- many guides will suggest a dilution of up to 20 - which will help to elongate the taste and may make it more pleasing to the taste buds. Experiment with different dilutions to see what works for you.
Last but not least - the essential part of whisky tasting is to have fun. Maybe have a few friends round to join in and share your findings. For miniatures or dram tasting sets, head over to our miniature selection where we have a collection from around the globe. Have a browse to find out more about each one then try for yourself!
Here are 5 of our current favourite whiskeys. Let us know if you agree or disagree
Proper No. Twelve £26.49
Proper 12. The blending of sweet Irish grain spirit and single malt Irish whiskey lies at the heart of Proper No. Twelve. The Master Distiller selects casks that hold the rich character needed to craft Proper No. Twelve Whiskey.
Glenmorangie 10 Year Old - £29.99
Glenmorangie 10 Year Highland Single Malt Scotch is the original in the series, aged 10 years in ex-bourbon casks from Missouri. It sports a fresh nose, citrus and peach and creamy vanilla, followed by a desserty palate of more vanilla and fruity, floral notes. The finish is fresh, with acidic orange and juicy peach, quick and effective.
Cragganmore 12 Years Old £34.99
Cragganmore 12 Year is a golden delicious single malt from Speyside, and definitely amongst one of the classic malts from this iconic region. The nose is sweet and floral, reminiscent of the herbs and flowers of the hillsides, with honey and vanilla. The palate is robust and malty, with notes of smoky sandalwood, aromatic and intriguing. The finish is long and malty, with sweet notes of other cereals and smokiness to seal the deal.
Bowmore Vault Edition First Release £72.99 £64.99
BowmoreVault Edition First Release Fresh tobacco leaf - then sweet with a hint of caramelised sugars, green tea and toasted almonds to the nose. A floral freshness with sweet barley sugar at first, The palate is left alive and refreshed to the tongue
Macallan Rare Cask Batch No 3 £279.99
Macallan Rare Cask Batch No 3 Coming from a mix of 50 different casks, mostly Sherry oak from Europe and America this is one you won’t want to share or maybe not even open. The bottle is utterly gorgeous.