Whisky is the original craft spirit – made with attention to detail, each and every cask oozing passion. Scotswoman and student of Scottish history, Ann Miller says: “The main reason why we drink whisky is this wonderful array of flavours in the glass.”
You really should need no convincing about the pleasure of exploring the vast range of tastes – before your next purchase of Scotch Whisky. So here are few tips on how to get the most out of your first whisky tasting experience.
A proper whisky glass is designed to maximize the experience. “It should be wide enough to allow the aroma to escape, and then taper at the top to concentrate the smells”, Says Mary Hemsworth, manager of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. The best choice of glass is always a snifter. If you don’t have a snifter the best alternative is a wineglass.
Nose the Whisky
According to masterofmalt.com this is the most important part of assessing a whisky. Before you smell, give the whisky a little swirl to release the aromas then bring it to your nose. Whisky is a strong spirit so let the smell come to you. What do these aromas suggest to you? Are they light, strong, fresh, rich, fruity or spicy?
Check the Colour
While you are sniffing and swirling your “wee dram” take a closer look at its colour. Colour indicates how the whisky was matured. Blair Bowman, founder of World Whisky Day, says: “If it’s very light in colour it has probably been matured in bourbon casks. If it is very dark and amber in colour it has been matured in sherry casks.” You will soon learn which you prefer.
Look at the Legs
Hold the glass at an angle and rotate it briskly, coating the inside walls of the glass with whisky. Now hold the glass upright and watch the spirit forming ‘tear drops’ as it runs down the sides of the glass. “If these are smooth and fast then you can tell that the whisky is not high in alcohol strength (…) if the ‘legs’ are very fat and slow and you notice small pin pricks around the top then you can tell that the whisky is very high in alcohol strength and probably cask strength.” – advises Blair Bowman.
At long last and certainly not least have a ‘wee’ sip. The most important thing is to avoid swallowing it too fast! “Different parts of your tongue and mouth respond to different flavours and stimuli, so pass the whisky over all areas of your mouth to gain maximum effect” — advises scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk.
Remember, everyone will experience something different. Let your mind link to memories and find your own descriptive flights of fancy. Most of all, enjoy it!
Whisky enthusiasts can experience an impressive collection of whiskies at The Hotel Indigo Edinburgh or join The Grand Hotel & Spa’s Whisky Club Membership which offers discounts on the hotel’s extensive Whisky Menu.