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How to taste whiskey

Whiskey is often served in a snifter glass. To properly drink this spirit, begin by holding the glass by the stem because you do not want to warm the glass with your hand. Begin by checking the color of the whiskey. The color can often indicate which type of casks the whiskey was aged in. A golden hued whiskey often comes from a sherry cask and a very pale whiskey can come from a bourbon cask.

Next tilt the glass and coat the walls with the whiskey. Straighten the glass and as the whiskey runs back down, take note of the ‘legs’ it forms down the sides of the glass–the slower the legs, the older the whiskey.  Place your noise in the glass and take a deep breath. See what the smell reminds you of and try to make a mental note of what you detected.

Now on to the actual tasting. Begin by forming your tongue into a small spoon shape in your mouth and take a small sip. Allow the whisky to rest on your tongue. While it’s resting there, see if you can identify any of the changing aromas and flavors. These flavors may include apples, oranges, vanilla, smoke, caramel, bonfires, mowed grass or chocolate. Compare whatever flavors you notice to when you smelled the whiskey; do they match up?

There are several ways that whiskey is served but it is said that the best way to taste this spirit is by drinking it neat. This means that you drink the whiskey in its most simple form–whisky only.  To drink whiskey on the rocks, or served over ice, you first let the ice slightly melt to dilute the whiskey. Tasting whiskey on the rocks often brings out flavors and nuances that aren’t noticed when the whiskey is served at room temperature.