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How to Taste Malt Whisky at Eriska

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith on Dec 18, 2012 9:47:00 AM

No visit ot Scotland is quite complete without a wee dram just to keep us all in touch with the "Spirit of Scotland" - in more ways than one!

Anyway we have a huge range of guests who stay with us at Eriska and their knowledge and experiences with Malt Whisky always varies but whether they be afficiandos or simply beginners- crossing the threshold of our Library Bar for the first time- it is certainly a topic which causes great discussion - always raises the passions and  never curbs the enthusiasm.

whisky tasting

 Malt whisky at Eriska is an intricate part of our life

and whether guests  are simply looking for a favourite or wanting to try a wee dram for the first time we try to help them understand a bit about this essential part of Scottish life and allow them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and culture if they so wish. This ranges from allowing them to sit quietly and enjoy the dram by the fire or pontificate at the bar and compare notes with others but in the middle of the range is the vast majority who simply are intrigued by the history, enjoy the product and use their experiences to enhance their stays in this wonderful part of the world.

 Many simply enjoy what they consume and, as they are not regular malt masters, are looking for ways to compare and contrast their experiences. So we always believe the best starting point is to try and form a base line so all malts get a "fair" chance to show! Therefore we thought it might be helpful to put down some simple guidelines as to how we recommend guests taste whisky in order to get the most out of the experiecne and enjoy the "water of life" to its best.

How to taste whisky

  1. Start with a tulip shaded glass (never a whisky tumble- unless that is all you have access to). This will concentrate the aroma of the spirit.
  2. Serve the the sample at room temperature, as this will allow the liquor to expend the maximum aroma and flavor.
  3. Observe the colour by holding the glass up to the light and note the hue of the liquid inside. It varies from a pale straw color to a deep mahogany all the way to a heavy treacle in older whiskeys.Nose the whisky two to three times- ie pass it in front of you nose iniatally and 
  4. Swirl the glass in order to release some of the aroma. Not only will this prepare the whisky for your nose, but it will also provide much insight about the sample. The Legs on the glass are indicative of the potency of the whisky.
  5. Take a nose into the glass but do not be tempted to inhale too deeply, or you may risk becoming temporarily “odor blind.”
  6. Take a small sip and let the whisky coat your mouth and note what flavors you pick up
  7. Add water to the spirit to open it up and to release the oils in the dram (I add just a splash)
  8. Take a big sip and note the overall body of the spirit
  9. Move the whisky around in your mouth to pick up additional flavors
  10. Swallow and note how long the finish is
  11. Take your time and try only a few at a time and drink plenty of water between sips.
  12. Discussion time!!

 In addition to these simple steps we also have a tasting sheet and this allows guests who are intersted over their stay to sample a few malts and keep a record in order to allow them to compare and contrast over a few hours, days or even weeks. By structuring the tasting each time it helps formulate the reasons behind malt choices

Topics: Food, Drink