Want to learn how to taste whisky? These four steps will have you well on the way to being a whisky snob. The finest Tassie dram awaits…
1. Let it sit
Pour a small measure of whisky into a snifter glass, which concentrates the aromas through a narrow opening. Let it sit for a few minutes so that the strong alcohol evaporates.
2. Check the colour
Hold the glass up to the light to check the colour. Triple-distilled Irish whiskey tends to be lighter than double-distilled Scottish whisky. Scottish whisky aged in bourbon barrels tends to be lighter than that from sherry or port barrels.
3. Inhale the aromas
Nose or smell the whisky. This allows you to pick up many flavours that can only be detected via aromas rather than taste. If you detect smokiness this comes from peat fires used to dry out some whiskies.
4. Have a sip
Taste the spirit. The first sip is about setting your palette. The second sip is all about detecting the flavours, letting it coat your tongue to get the ‘mouth feel’ or viscosity and then having it linger on your palate to establish the length before swallowing.
A great whisky will have a delightful first taste, get richer in mid-palate and then ideally have an extended long finish, which is the aftertaste once you have swallowed.
Vanilla, caramel, and toffee are classic whisky flavours, a by-product of the ageing process in different styles of French and American oak barrels. Tasmanian whiskies are said to have distinctive citrus flavours.