It is widely recognised that there are 5 key stages of tasting, enjoying and rating a whisky:
- Colour – an obvious start, but just looking at it can tell you a bit about its age, and what kind of barrel it’s been in
- Nose – the first hit on the nostrils will actually tell you the most about what’s to come and the key flavours involved
- Body – swilling the liquid around in the glass may look extremely pretentious but it can actually tell you about the whisky’s water content, its alcoholic volume and whether it’s a full or light dram (or somewhere in between)
- Palate – the main event: the taste itself, and don’t be afraid to savour it for a little while in the mouth
- Finish – this judges how smoothly (or not!) the liquid goes down, how quickly it disappears, and which flavours, if any, it leaves behind.
At Whisky Unplugged, we don’t really go into much detail about the colour and body that a whisky has, because these are largely just factual. What we do enjoy however, is discovering and getting to know the flavours that a dram has to offer as we taste them and by talking through them, because this is where people form their real opinions and everyone’s experiences can be different. In fact, the real beauty of whisky tasting is that you are always correct. The flavours that you find within the smell, taste and finish of the whisky will trigger your own taste buds and memories, spark your own thoughts and debates and, ultimately, determine whether you like it or not.
Also, adding a pinch of water to your dram will open up the whisky a bit, remove some of the alcoholic burn and can even present new flavours – but go sparingly!