A Beginner’s Guide To Understand The Taste Of Whisky
So, you enjoy your occasional glass of whisky but do you ‘understand’ how different whiskies carry different flavours and complexities?
‘Guzzling down whisky is one thing but understanding its taste is like an art.’
Beginning with this perfect surmise, let’s dig a little deeper into it.
Let’s clarify here that one need not be an expert to understand the intricacies of a particular drink, and it is perfectly alright to still enjoy that fine whisky if you so wish. However, if you’re that curious beginner who’d like to delve a little deeper into the glass, here we spring up to bring you the essential key points to help you to appreciate your drink a little better.
Why Does Whisky Taste The Way It Does?
The geography, method of distillation, the size and types of barrels used to age whisky, charring, the duration of ageing, are the key factors which essentially determine how your whisky tastes like.
To understand why does the whisky taste the way it does, you need to open your senses to it and remember the importance of patience and practice.
The Right Glassware
The type of glass used for whisky tasting plays an important role in helping you understand the ‘mystery of whisky’ better.
It is preferable to use the tulip glass or nosing glass or tasting glass which is specially designed to concentrate the aromas of whisky, thus, helping you to get the most of your drink.
Appearance of Whisky
At the risk of sounding shallow let’s announce that appearance matters, in the context of whisky of course!
The appearance and colour of your drink can generally give you a fair idea about how long it was aged.
And when you swirl the glass, you’ll notice the viscosity of whisky legs which is a good indicator of its character & age.
Swirl It Right
So as it turns out, that dramatic swirl is not at all meaningless. When you swirl the glass, it releases the aromas of the whisky which in turn lets your senses register them.
Nosing Your Drink
Did you know that about 80% of the taste is understood by the sense of smell and our nose can pick up hundreds of aromas which are linked to the memory?
Supported by this logic, with nosing whisky tasting actually begins even before we take a sip of the drink.
But how do you nose a drink?
Pour your drink in the glass and swirl it. As the aromas get released you then bring your nose to it, letting your mind register their distinctiveness.
Remember to be cautious though, nose your whisky gently, because, the high ABV content in whisky may end up overwhelming your senses.
Time To Taste It!
Reaching this step is indeed as rewarding and tempting as it sounds!
Once you’ve covered the initial steps, it is time to move onto the next level to gauge the character of the whisky. The point to remember here is to let it linger in the mouth, experiencing the mouthfeel as the flavours are pronounced. Notice if the whisky is creamy, smooth, light or fruity?
Experience The Finish Line
The after-taste of swallowing the whisky is called as ‘finish’, which is the differentiating factor. While swallowing leaves a slight alcoholic burn, it is important to remember that each whisky brand reacts differently to water and ice.
Things to notice here are whether the sensation & the flavour stay for a short or long duration of time, which is called the length of ‘finish’, and reveals the whisky’s character.
It is essential to understand that whisky acquires the flavour and character through time, so there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to its taste since ‘taste’ is also a matter of personal choice. However, the familiarize yourself with its basic character, one needs to be analytic let the senses speak.
Lastly, do remember to enjoy your drink as you embark upon this delicious learning experience.