Whisky is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages throughout the world. With over 400 aroma compounds to its credit, whisky offers an array of flavors to be savored in, including vanilla, honey, pear, and caramel, among others. Though many people love to drink it, they have still not learnt the art of tasting it. It is normal to find one gulping it down the throat in one go, rather than sipping it and enjoying its heavenly taste and rich flavor. With some simple tips and techniques, tasting whisky can be just as much fun as tasting wine or beer. In the whole process of tasting whisky, your nose plays a more important role than your tongue that helps you reveal the hidden inner world of this exotic beverage. All you need to have for tasting whisky is a good whiskey and a tulip shaped wine glass. Listed are a few tips that you need to follow while tasting whisky.
How To Taste Whisky
The first step for tasting whiskey is to get a good bottle of whiskey. Make sure that you pick up a famous, top-notch brand. You can judge the age of the whisky by its color – the darker the whisky, the older it is. Also, the type of cask used for maturation helps in providing clues about its age. Whiskies stored in sherry cask are darker or more amber in color, compared to those in ex-bourbon casks that take a golden-yellow/honey color.
Choose a Suitable Glass
Whisky cannot be tasted without a glass. However, you need to have a standard shaped glass used for whisky tasting. Buy a tulip shaped glass, that’s wide at the bottom with a tight brim, because it fills in with the aroma of the whisky and releases gradually through the small area on the top of the glass, thus making for a complete celebration time. Some also prefer to use tumblers or snifters.
Pour and Smell
Being over thousand times more sensitive than the tongue, your nose will help you discover the different notes of flavors hidden in the whisky. Gently pour about an ounce of whisky into the glass and swirl it for sometime letting it release the aromas. Cover the glass with your hands for a period of about five seconds; doing so will allow the oxygen reach the whisky and begin the process of evaporation. As the colored liquid travels back down to the bottom of the glass, use your nostrils to smell the aromas circulating inside and rising. Repeat this process three to four times to note the different scents – light, fresh, fruity, rich, floral, smoky, spicy, heavy, etc. It might be toffee, butterscotch, molasses, nutmeg, toasted wood, cedar, dark chocolate, cinnamon, almond, ripe cherries, coconut or marzipan. You may not be able to find out the exact flavor of the whisky with the first sniff as it will be too strong. However, as your nostrils take the second, third and fourth sniffs, you’ll get used to the spirit’s strength. With this, you should be able to deduce what the whisky will taste like.
Enjoying the flavor of whisky is the most enjoyable and rewarding portion of the entire process of tasting this divine liquid. Take a sip of the whisky from the brim of the glass while breathing in the aroma and allow it to linger around your tongue, covering all your taste buds, and mouth to get maximum effects as different parts of your tongue and mouth will give off different flavors. You’ll be able to taste sweetness at the tip of your tongue, followed by saltiness along the sides, and dryness and bitterness at the back. Swallow in the whisky after holding it in your mouth for few seconds. This is known as “mouthfeel”.
Don't open your mouth or close your throat. Allow a tiny amount of air through your mouth and breathe through your nose slowly as the fumes rise up into your sinuses. You will notice different flavors. This is called the “finish”. Once the flavors subside, breathe normally. Try to figure out whether the flavors remained in your mouth for a short, medium, or long duration. This is known as the “length of the finish”. You can, very well, proceed for another tasting session, but with a dash of water, this time. Diluting whisky with water will open it up, enabling you to identify the elements and aromas of the whisky more easily.
If you really want to capture the flavor and aroma of whiskey, following these small yet significant pointers can help you extract its taste to the fullest. Go ahead and enjoy this lovely, mature liquid, while understanding what you are drinking. Cheers!