How to Sample Whisky

If you are completely new to whisky our step by step guide will help you learn how to nose and taste whisky so you can really appreciate your dram and most importantly decide if you like it! 

We also recommend everyone follow these steps every time you try a new whisky.

  1. Colour
    Note the shade and depth of colour. These indicate the type of casks used for maturation, the freshness of the casks (how many times they’ve been used) and the age of the whisky.
  2. Viscosity
    Swirl the whisky around your glass. Natural oils leave a light film, from which ‘tears’ or ‘legs’ may form. The size and length of these are an indication of the weight and mouthfeel of the spirit, and can also indicate its age.
  3. Nose
    Slowly bring the glass to your nose and inhale gently. Vary the angle of the glass and its distance from your nose to explore the full bouquet. Try to identify some of the component aromas.
  4. Taste
    Take a small sip and hold the whisky on your tongue to saturate the taste buds. These receptors for sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami can initially be overwhelmed by the strength of the alcohol.
  5. Mouthfeel
    Roll the whisky around your mouth to appreciate the texture of the spirit. This is crucial to the overall enjoyment of the whisky. Whiskies can be creamy, waxy and silky, or conversely hot, astringent and thin.
  6. Finish
    The sensory experience is not yet complete. Quality whisky leaves a lasting impression called its ‘finish’. This is the taste left in your mouth after the whisky has gone, and can be described both in terms of the flavours and the feeling.
  7. Time, Water, Repeat
    Most whisky improves with a little time in the glass. You may also find that a few drops of water enhance your experience by ‘opening’ the whisky. So take it easy, have a sip of water, then repeat steps 1 – 6 to gain a further appreciation of your whisky.

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