Host Your Own Whiskey Tasting

How To Taste Bourbon - Posted by Hammerstone's Whiskey Disks, makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

How To Taste Whiskey

Level of Difficulty: very low
Level of Fun: very high
Time Required: 5 -10 minutes per sample

 

Here’s How:

  • Decide how many whiskeys will be tasted. Be responsible and realistic – limit the tasting to 6 whiskeys. Go beyond that, and your tongue will start to suffer from contact anesthesia.
  • Mark the numbers 1-6 on each glass with a grease pencil. Or use a sheet of paper divided into 6 sections with numbers.
  • If you are going to be taking notes, lay out some paper and a pencil. Pencils allow you to change your observations more easily.
  • Fill each glass with between ¼ to ½ ounce of whiskey. If possible cover the whiskeys with small squares of heavy paper – coasters work perfectly.
  • Pick up the first glass of whiskey, look at the color. You may wish to use a white background such as sheet of paper.
  • Then swirl the whiskey gently in the glass, watch what it does when you stop. Does it coat the glass lightly or heavily? Does it form scalloped edges as it recedes? Does it form legs? Thick or thin? Or, does it form droplets?
  • Smell or “nose” the whiskey. Draw the scents in through both your nose and your slightly-open mouth. What do you smell? What does it remind you of?
  • Taste the whiskey and get a impression of the body. Is it big, rich, soft, creamy, harsh? Where does it hit on your tongue? How does it feel? What flavors do you taste? Take your time. Some flavor profiles come slowly.
  • Alternate between nosing and sipping. Taking care to cleanse your palate between sips with a bland cracker or a cucumber slice. Write down your impressions.
  • Examine how the whiskey finishes. Does it linger or disappear quickly? A good whiskey should linger like a good kiss, and have exactly the same effect.
  • Don’t be afraid to revisit the whiskey in a few minutes. You may be surprised at the subtle differences you’ll see.
  • Again, cleanse your palate with crackers or cucumbers. Have some water and finish up your notes for that particular whiskey. Take a little time to clear your mind and your palate.
  • Repeat the above steps until you have sampled all the whiskeys. Tasting calls for pacing yourself and contemplating each individual whiskey. Relax and enjoy the experience. It’s a ritual not a race.

Some Tips:

  1. Decide on a horizontal or vertical tasting. Horizontal: whiskeys of the same age or type from different distilleries. Vertical: whiskeys from the same distillery but different ages, being sure to start with the youngest first.
  2. If it is to be a blind sampling, have someone else number the glasses.
  3. Make sure the glasses are clean and dry. No soap or chlorine residues. Same goes for your hands, make sure they’re clean but avoid strong-smelling soaps or perfumes.

What You’ll Need:

  • Whiskey Tasting Glasses
  • Grease Pencil or Printed Grid
  • Pencil and Paper
  • Crackers or Cucumber Slices
  • Water
  • Some Spare Time

And might we suggest that after you find the perfect whiskey to suit you, pour it over one of our frozen handcrafted whiskey stones. It’ll slightly chill that awesome tipple without diluting it’s complex flavors. After all, what’s life without its useful little rituals?

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