Whiskey Appreciation 101

Whiskey is forever associated with romanticism, and is synonymous with taste, nostalgia, worldliness, and creativity. Whiskey was the muse of numerous artists, writers, poets, and icons – from tormented F Scott Fitzgerald to hedonistic Hunter S Thompson.

It’s no wonder, then, that Millennials and Hipsters (a bonafide subculture that was first observed in early 2003) have developed a powerful affinity for it. They can be observed in their natural habitats at trendy cafes, eateries and jazz clubs, providing that the venues are not considered “mainstream”. The Hipsters’ love for whiskey and all things artisanal has driven whiskey sales up to an impressive $3.1bn in the US alone.

With the trendiness of whiskey on the rise, impress your friends with the whiskey tasting hacks below.

The Whiskey Swirl

Believe it or not, the shape of your glassware can actually improve your whiskey tasting. Use a glass that has a wide base and a narrower opening. this will capture the scent of your whiskey as you swirl it around the glass, making the scent more concentrated so you’ll be able to identify the main notes.

The Whiskey Sniff

Once you have swirled your whiskey around your glass, observe the “legs”, or the drops of whiskey that remain on the inside of the glass. Are they slow, thick drips, or light, slender ones? The thicker the drops, the richer and more heady your whiskey will taste. Note the colour of your whiskey – darker, deeper colours signify how long a whiskey has been aged for. Slowly and gently sniff the scents at the top of your glass (no need to plunge your whole nose in the glass!). Note what scents you are smelling. Try to be completely open to the scent of the whiskey – don’t be influenced by what your peers are smelling. Inhale the scent of the whiskey a few times, as the base notes can change with aeration and exposure. Be sure to “cleanse” your olfactory membranes when you are about to try sniffing another whiskey. Do this by taking a long inhalation of coffee  beans – this will give your nose a fresh start, so to speak.

The Whiskey Sip

Once you are satisfied that you’ve smelled your whiskey enough, purse your lips into a tight “O” shape and take a small sip. Suck in air with your whiskey to move the taste pleasantly along your tastebuds. Roll the whiskey around your mouth. Note the smoothness and the way your mouth feels. Observe the different flavours that you pick up, and try to be passive in your tasting… and be objective. When you have tasted your whiskey enough, swallow it. The “finish” of the whiskey describes the warming burn you are feeling… note if it is unpleasant and burns, or if it feel velvety and smooth? How long do you feel the burning sensation for? is the finish long, or short?