There is a significant portion of the population that doesn’t realize that you can taste whiskey in the same fashion as you would taste wine. Many people don’t even know how many different types of whiskies there are, and how fun it could be to create a whiskey tasting party all in the comfort of your own home. Really the best way to enjoy whiskey is to savor it.
If you didn’t know already, whiskey is a generic name for many things, because within whiskey you get bourbons, Canadians, ryes, blended Scotch, as well as single malt Scotch. While flavor and taste are important, it gets just a bit more complicated than that when it comes to having a whiskey tasting party. You will be looking for 3-4 different notes, and things like complexity of flavor, and how the finish is.
The #1 thing you need to know about different variations of whiskey is the difference between one and the other, as well as their heritage. Each one is unique with its own set of flavors and mouth feels. The best thing to do is to choose from the single malt category for a tasting event
You will need certain things to get started, such as: a variety of whiskies, tulip shaped glasses to best contain the aromas, friends (because it’s not fun drinking alone), room temperature spring water, and unsalted crackers to cleanse the palate between tastings. To get started, you’ll need one glass for each participant, and then you will pour 1.5 ounces of whiskey into each glass. Next thing you will do is observe the clarity and sparkle of your drink in the light, as well as the color of it. It can range anywhere from light to deep amber. This will help you determine the flavor intensity. Light colored whiskeys are light in flavor, while darker whiskies have more flavor. Whiskies that are aged longer tend to be darker. You can now add a small amount of room temperature spring water to the whisky. This will neutralize the impact of the alcohol, so you’ll be able to smell more of the character of the whiskey.
A few more steps and we are on the way to a beautiful tasting experience. You will gently swirl your glass to release the aromas to your nose, while keeping your lips slightly apart. You will look for aromas such as ‘cinnamon, spicy, fruity, leather, dark chocolate, etc.’ Just don’t sniff too hard otherwise all you will get is an alcohol smell in your nose.
Now you can taste the whiskey, and after that you should look out for flavors that you sensed when you nosed the glass. These flavors may include green apple, pepper, dark chocolate, fruity, etc. Just remember that everyone will taste something different since we all have different palates. You can repeat this process on the next whiskies you intend to taste, but make sure to cleanse your palate with an unsalted cracker before doing so.
Whiskey can be rough around the edges for some participants, but understanding what you’re looking for and knowing that you’re not wrong in your observations really does make all the difference. Just have fun with it, and once you find a whiskey you truly enjoy, you can keep it stocked and then do a little research on its heritage