Let us guess, you are a whisky enthusiast and want to share your love for this unique spirit with your friends? Well, then at home whisky tasting is just the perfect thing to do. This is a great opportunity for you and your friends to discover new tastes and learn more about the water of life, i.e. whisky. Here are the top tips on how to host a successful whisky tasting session at home.
Pick a tasting theme
Before picking up the bottles, you need to decide on the theme of your future tasting. Of course, you can just take your favourite bottles for the tasting, but, cmon, it is much more fun to select whiskies according to some criteria. For example, you can choose whiskies all from one country (American, Irish, Scotch, English, or even Mexican whisky), or from one region. It will be cool to select all one age whiskies to explore their tasting features. You can also choose only peated / smoky / single grain bottles from different places. The possibilities are endless.
Choose the bottles
Now when you’ve decided on the theme, it’s time to choose the bottles for drinking. How many whiskies do you need for tasting? Well, you don’t need more than 6 bottles to properly enjoy the taste and not get hammered. 4-5 bottles will be just perfect to appreciate different flavors.
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Get the proper glassware
For a whisky tasting, choose small tulip-shaped glasses, or snifters. This is a perfect form that allows all of the aromas to be concentrated to one point at the top of the glass. That’s what any good whiskey glass should do. Fill the glass to the widest point near the base to help open up the complex aromas and flavours. If you don’t have snifters in hand, you can go with rocks glasses or even white wine glassware.
Provide your guests with water
You’ll also need two glasses of water for everyone: one for adding to the whiskies, and another one for sipping between tasting because hydration is key. Choose non-carbonated water at room temperature.
First, let people taste whisky without water, and then encourage them to add a few drops of water to the glass (use the liquid droppers for that) and see how it will affect the tasting experience.
Don’t forget about food
Drinking whisky is great, but offering some tasty snacks to accompany the spirits will make your tasting just perfect. Whisky pairs well with cheese, rye crackers, bread, and chocolate. Here are more whisky and food pairing ideas for your inspiration.
Avoid spicy and too herbal foods as well as citrus, as they can conflict with the tasting experience.
Record your impressions
To make the most out of your whisky tasting, give your evaluation to all whiskies according to the following criteria:
- Appearance (colour and clarity).
- Smell. Try to identify which aromas you recognize when you nose your whisky. Is it malty, smoky, fruity…?
- Palate. What flavours do you notice on the palate: rich and fruity, spicy, sweet?
- Finish. Does the flavour remain for a long time on the palate or does it vanish quickly?
Make it fun
Don’t get super geeky — whisky tasting shouldn’t bore anyone. To get people excited and engaged, try blind tasting and let people guess which bottle they have just tried. This is a fun way to taste and train your senses.