Hello gents. Welcome to our third installment of the whisky mini-series. During the first two episodes, we enlightened you on what the prey looked like, then we went about listing out the critical tools needed to hunt… now we will show you how. In case you’ve already had too many whisky glasses or been simply confused by our use of the word “prey”, we are, of course, still referring to whisky.
In order for the taster to truly appreciate this divine liquid, one must tap into the three primary sensors: Sight (eyes), Smell (nose) and Taste (palate). If you follow the instructions below, you too can bask in the glory of whisky tasting (or at least act like you know what you’re doing).
Eyes, it is often the most delicate yet widely used sensory receptor on our body. With sight we are granted the ability to take in all the visual beauty the world has to offer. When it comes to whisky, the coloration impacts the overall sensuality. Look for things like, “whether the liquid has been chill filtered or non-chill filtered? Does the color of the spirit suggest the use of caramel?” All these visual characteristics give a particular clue to the maturation and ingredients of the whisky. Another common practice often performed by whisky connoisseurs is to tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle and slowly swirl the glass while allowing the liquid to lightly coat the inner surface of the glass. Once you’ve given the glass a 360 turn, set it up-right and observe the “legs” that trickle down the surface. The speed and consistency at which the alcohol descends gives a prelude to how strong (alcohol concentration) and flavorful (oil) the spirit is.
If seeing is believing, than smelling will instantly captivate you. When it comes to smelling (aka nosing) whisky, the overall concept is similar to nosing a fine glass of wine. The idea of nosing is to initiate and help further trigger your sensory receptors to prep for that amazing experience, taste. Another reason to bring your nostrils close to the Glencairn glass is to play a game of hide and go seek. The rules are simple, every time you inhale the aromatic goodness that rises into the air, allow your brain to take a moment and gather the various scent emitting into the air. As you bring the glass close and away from you, try and associate each fragrant intake to a particular product, incident, memory or experience you had in the past. The key here is that there are no right or wrong answers to the unique scent you take away from your drink. Every individual is different and we each associate a different memory or experience to the fragrance. The goal is to close your eyes and allow your nose to be the detective.
Now that you’ve seen and smelled this wonderful liquid, all that’s left is to consume it. HOLD YOUR HORSES! You are definitely NOT going to just close our eyes and take this bad boy straight up. No Sir! You are going to allow this beauty to slowly enter your mouth and give it sufficient time to fully circulate thru your palate and then some; allow the liquid to move freely and hit every taste bud from sweet to sour to spicy, etc.… The visual cue brought awareness, the smell helped prep the stage for the awesome experience to come.
Well there you have it folks, the key to properly taste whisky. If you think about it, there are a lot of science and self-awareness involved in this exercise. The act of tasting whisky not only allows us to get a better understanding of the drink, it also helps us understand bits and pieces about ourselves. While hunting for the unexpected flavors and memories, we are constantly reconnecting and engaging our senses and thus, ourselves. Regardless of your whisky (of choice), we hope you stay thirsty and always bring your best to the hunt!