Tasting Whisky

1. Cleanse the palate: Drink a black unsweetened coffee or chew on 90% minimum cocoa chocolate

2. Find a room free of distracting noises and aromas of cooking and other things that can affect your understanding and appreciation of the whisky

3. Make sure you have washed your hands recently, no scented soaps. No strong perfumes/after shave

4. Use a tulip shaped glass with a stem. This helps contain the alcohols at the bottom yet allows the more delicate whisky aromas you are searching for to escape

5. NEVER add ice. This tightens the molecules and prevents flavors and aromas from being released. It also makes your whisky taste bitter. Never put the whisky in the fridge

6. Don’t add water. It releases aromas but can mean the whisky falls below 40%.so it’s no longer whisky. Its ability to release flavors and aromas diminish quite quickly. NEVER add whiskey rocks

7. Warm the undiluted whisky in the glass to body temperature before nosing or tasting. Hence the stem, so you can cradle in your hand the curve of the thin base. This excites the molecules and unravels the whisky in your glass, maximizing its sweetness and complexity

8. Keep your hand over the glass to keep the aromas in while you warm. Only a minute or two after condensation appears at the top of your glass should you extend your arms, lift your covering hand and slowly bring the glass to your nose, so the alcoholic vapors have been released before the glass reaches your face

9. Never stick your nose in the glass. Or breathe in deeply. Gently allow the glass to touch your top lip, leaving a small space below the nose. Move from nostril to nostril, breathing normally. This allows the aromas to break up in the air, helping find the more complex notes.

10. First mouthful take no notice (small). This is a marker for your palate

11. Second larger mouthful, close your eyes to concentrate on the flavor and chew the whisky – moving it continuously around the palate. Keep your mouth slightly open to let air in and alcohol out. It helps to tilt your head back slightly.

12. Occasionally spit – if you have the willpower!  This helps the senses to remain sharp for the longest period of time

13. Look for the balance of the whisky. That is, which flavors counter others so none is too dominant? Also watch carefully how flavors and aromas change over time in the glass

14. Asses the “shape” and mouth feel of the whisky, its weight and how long the finish. And don’t forget to concentrate on the first flavors as intensely as you do the last. Look out for the way the sugars, spices and other characteristics form.

15. Never make your final assessment until you have taste it a third or fourth time.

16. Be honest in your assessment: don’t let someone or the label etc. convince you how good it is

17. When you cannot discriminate between one whisky and another STOP