Tasting Single Malt Scotch
Ahh Single Malt tasting, an evocative phrase.
Tasting is not about drinking, there are a few aspects to tasting that enriches the experience
First you need a Whisky to taste. What type depends on you the taster! Pick your favourite or get hold of a one you have never tasted, that makes the experience more delightful.
Secondly and I know this come as a shock, you need a glass. Not just any glass. If you do not have a Tasting Glass get on line and purchase one, maybe two in case you want to share your experience with your best friend. The ideal glass is tulip shaped with a heavy base. The tulip part captures the aroma in the top of the glass and allows you to swirl the amber liquid without spilling. And talking about spilling that is the reason for the heavy base it is not too easy to knock a Whisky Tasting glass over. That would be a sacrilege!
Next comes the appearance of the Scotch. Is it golden, amber, darker or very light. Take your time to swirl the liquid and look at it up against daylight if possible. Watch the way the swirled liquid clings to the side of the glass, this gives a good idea of the viscosity of the Scotch. Many of the heavier darker ones will cling more.
The Nose! This is the most important quality after the Taste. Stick your nose in the top of the tulip, open your mouth slightly and take a small sniff. What aroma do you detect? Does the aroma remind you of anything in your life, Leather, Salt, Honey, Grass perhaps. There are no hard and fast rules regarding the Nose. One person may pick up different nuances than another so just enjoy what you smell in your glass.
Now comes the big moment, the Taste. Don’t rush this, don’t take a huge mouthful. Sip the Scotch first, allow it to slide slowly over your lips, let it roll around your tongue, all the time trying to pick up the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle flavours for the Scotch. The main flavours to look for are Sweetness, Strong Alchohol, Pepper. Does it make you gasp or purr? As you allow it to trickle into your throat does the flavour change. This is the Finish part. Just as in drinking good wines.
The last part comes after you have Tasted. Try adding a small quantity of water or a small Ice Cube
Now go through the Nose and the Taste again and see how much they both may change.
Of course every Scotch can be enhanced by sharing your experience with a good friend or a group of friends, that way you can all compare the various Nose, Tastes and Finish.