Whisky enthusiasts have debated for several decades over the proper and best way to consume the timeless drink. While some drinkers passionately advocated drinking it neat, altogether eschewing ice or mixers, others have favoured the opposite to be true. In fact, many whisky drinkers nowadays enjoy drinking it with ice, mixers, or even in cocktails: basically any way they want to enjoy it.
However, if you want to taste and enjoy whisky how experts enjoy it, the process goes a little differently. There’s no specific way to drink whiskey. Some experts guide whisky tasters by encouraging them to taste and describe the flavours on their own, while other experts guide tasters in the process. Fortunately, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind to taste it the right way. Here are four tips to look like a pro when tasting whisky:
Look Around and Observe
Once you get whisky in your hand, the first step is to simply look and observe it. The best way to look at it is to prop it up against a white background. This allows you to inspect the whiskey’s colour, which tells you about the kind of cash it matured in, how long it aged, and where it was distilled. Some whiskies are amber-coloured, like darker honey. Others have lighter colours, like gold. Usually, the darker the whisky, the older it is.
Smell the Whisky
After you’ve taken a good look at your whisky, it’s time to smell it. Getting a whiff of the full-bodied aroma of whisky is arguably one of the most critical elements of tasting it. Slowly bring your nose to the glass; some whiskies have over 50 percent of alcohol by volume (ABV) with powerful smells, which can easily overwhelm your nose.
When your nose reaches the glass, start sniffing it. Some experts recommend multiple small sniffs, while others suggest long sniffs to fully enjoy its aroma. Regardless of the method you choose, remember that you must take your time and slowly enjoy the whisky. Focus on smells that remind you of certain things. Spend around 30 seconds to a full minute sniffing, then analyze the smells you register.
Take a Small Sip
It’s now time to taste the whisky. Similar to smelling it, it’s best to start sipping it slowly. Begin with taking a small sip. If you’d like to prepare your palette for the next sips, move that sip of whisky around your mouth for a few seconds. After that, follow it up with another sip. Concentrate on the flavours that come to mind, and take note of this. Spend a few minutes sipping your whisky slowly to experience the full range of flavours in your glass.
Add Some Water
The last step is to add a few drops of water. This is usually used to dilute extra-strong whiskeys. Still, many experts recommend adding water even to moderate to light-tasting whiskeys. Water reduces the intensity of the alcohol percentage, allowing more of the flavours and smells to stand out. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert on all things whisky, doing this is recommended after tasting it neat. It’s also something that nearly every whisky maker does!
Although it can be intimidating to emulate whisky connoisseurs when evaluating a whisky, the process is deceptively simple. While some aromas and flavours can take a while to register in your mind, it’ll come much faster with a ton of practice. Just take your time, look thoughtful, and you’ll fool others into thinking you’re a whisky expert!
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