A tasting session has several important steps that are fundamental. It is a kind of cult, almost a religion! Done correctly, it will enhance your appreciation of the drink and you will enjoy it most.
UPDATE: Read the new article about which one is the best way of tasting whisky.
These are the steps I believe are best. Do you do tasting in this way? What do you do?
Setup the tasting session
1) Find the mood. If you are depressed, sad, stressed, angry or in a hurry. Don’t do it.
2) Try to find a calm place without heavy olours. Someone smoking, a campfire, heavy perfumes, food. The more olours the room already have the harder for your nose to find something.
3) Choose the time. Just after eating is not usually a good idea. I prefer to do it just before dinner or long after dinner. Foods with a strong flavours will make your time harder too: chili, curry, garlic, paprika, barbecues, …
Choose your whiskies
4) Choose the whiskies. I usually do five at a time. Just keep in mind that even a sip of each of them will mean that you have drunk a good amount of alcohol at the end. Be careful.
My preferences for choosing are:
- The similar the whiskies the better.
- Order them from youngest to oldest.
- From worst to best if you know something about them.
- From lightest to peatiest whisky.
Usually the more whisky you drink the better it becomes but on the other hand if you try the good one at the beginning the rest will look like bullshit.
5) Now get the glasses you need plus one more of whatever size. Do your best so that the glasses are all the same. The shape of the glass affects the way your nose perceive the aromas.
6) Get a bottle of mineral water near you and a few pieces of crackers or bread to clean the palate.
7) Now, fill each glass with a generous measure of whisky. Around 2-3cl should be enough. If you put less the whisky doesn’t really open in the glass ( give it a try! ) and if you put more you will end up throwing it as you can’t really drink so much ( and keep doing a tasting ). Just after filling it, place something on the top of the glass so nothing of the aroma left the glass ( a small cardboard does the work ).
Finally get enough tasting sheets or get a blank sheets of paper.
So now your situation is like this one:
Tasting a whisky
So let’s begin the tasting.
1) Get a tasting sheet ( from here ) or get a blank piece of paper.
2) Write name, graduation and whatever other info that identify what you are drinking.
3) Now approach the glass to your nose and smell. Fast! Write down whatever comes to your mind.
4) Smell again.
5) And again. Try to disturb the less possible the glass during the process. Write down as much things as come to your mind.
6) Look the color and how the whisky falls on the walls of the glass when you move it.
7) Now let’s taste it.
8 ) Drink a sip of it and move it around your mouth. How is it? Light, hot, oily. Write down!.
9) Concentrate on what does it remind you of.
10) Now swallow the whisky ( or spit it, I prefer to swallow as whisky was done for drinking! ) and listen it going away. What taste is left on your mouth?
11) Keep thinking about that taste? Does it long? or it is already gone?
12) What impression does the whisky leave on you? Do you want another sip? Perhaps need another sip to think more about it?
Now with water
13) Ok, relax a bit. Wait. Drink a bit of water and clean your mouth.
14) Add a drops of water to the whisky. Let it settle down for a moment and repeat the whole process.
15) Which effect does the water have on the whisky? Is it better? Does you find anything new with water?
Scoring a whisky
16) Now the hard part, set an score for nose, taste, finish and balance. Think about the whisky. Look how the score you have written compares to previous tasting sessions.
17) Drink a bit of water and take a cracker. Relax. Now move to the next whisky.
Review the tastings notes
18) When you are done, check your scores, do really show which whisky do you like most? Congratulations so, if that’s not the case nose again and again until both results agree.
Get the Whisky Tasting paper from http://awardrobeofwhisky.com/content/files/whisky-tasting-paper.pdf