Put down the beer folks, there’s a new go-to beverage in town – and it’s one you need to get acquainted with.
We’re talking, of course, about whisky. This Scottish tipple is on everyone’s radar - and for very good reason.
As it is a craft product, whisky deserves to be treated properly. Drinking it might be easy, but tasting it is a different matter altogether. Approach it with a little respect, and you’ll reap the rewards earned from the time and expertise that goes into making it so damn delicious.
To help you do just that, we asked John Campbell, Distillery Manager of Laphroaig Single Malt, how to go about tasting and savouring this most delectable of spirits.
1 | “If you’re only starting to taste whisky, you’ll need to do some prep. Think about what you like – strong flavours like stout and intense espresso, or milder tastes like Indian Pale Ale and Flat Whites.”
2 | “Once you’ve got yourself all figured out, it’s time to buy a bottle. You’ll know by now if you want a big, bold challenge, or a more gentle glide into the world of whisky. Head to a specialist shop, where they’ll help you out.”
3 | “If you think it’s time to get on and pour, you’re going a touch too fast. Let’s talk glassware. You need the right design – one that sends the spirit’s aromas towards your nose, not something with a wide rim that will release everything to be diluted into the ether. Glencairn tasting glasses are great, and they’re not too expensive.”
4 | “Take a moment to look at your whisky. Is it light, is it dark? That’ll give you an idea of what to expect from it.”
5 | “We got there. It’s time to release a glug of your golden nectar. Get a drop in the glass, and give it a swirl. Watch to see how the liquid acts. Does it cling to the side, and have strong ‘legs’ running down? Or does it slide back quickly? If it’s the former, it’s going to be a heavy, full-bodied number. The latter, and it’ll be a bit thinner. Again, what you like is 100 per cent personal preference.”
6 | “Now, you’ll start to get the aromas from the glass. With your mouth slightly open, nose the whisky. This will stop the pure hit of alcohol being all you experience. It gets you ready for what you’re about to drink a bit better.”
7 | “Take your time; whiskies can evolve in the glass over as little as a few minutes. Give it a chance to develop, having a few smells.”
8 | “Take a small amount into your mouth, and swill it around. See which parts of your palate engage. Do you experience a smokiness? A spiciness? A sweetness? See which profiles start to come through. And add a drop of water if you’re finding it overpowering.”
9 | “Some notes to look out for are vanilla, fruity flavours like cherry or soft stone fruits, and malty, cereal flavours. Try writing down what you get, so that next time to try some, you can compare. That’ll help you get better at it.”
10 | “Remember, this is all subjective. What you taste is what you taste: there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Try and have some confidence in your palate.”
11 | ‘Whisky is a very social thing. Share it with friends, perhaps hold a tasting party with a few bottles, and bounce ideas off one another. It can work really well when paired with food as well – perhaps seafood, cheeses or even chocolate.”
12 | “Some people just get whisky the first time they drink it. Others might take a little longer. It’s all fine – just enjoy the journey.”
Please enjoy responsibly.