Whisky expert Gerry Tosh of Highland Park offers a wonderfully informative lesson in conducting a proper tasting, including simple instructions for using the right glass, properly preparing the palate, nosing the whisky and the importance of not swirling the spirit the way one would do with a glass of wine.
What you never do in whisky tastings is this, you never swirl the whisky. You swirl wine. Wine is between 12 to 14 percent alcohol, you swirl the wine to agitate the liquid to get the alcohol to evaporate and that carries the flavours up the glass and up the nose. This is 40% alcohol, it does not need any help to evaporate at all…So what we then do to make your life easier is keep the spirit flat and then we sniff it 3 times. We go 1, 2, 3 The first time you smell the whisky you get a tingling sensation in your nose, this is your nose recognizing the alcohol. The second time the tingling sensation goes and you get a flavour and it is usually a sweet flavour. The third time you get another flavour and it is usually a fruit. How you describe the flavours in whisky, wine, chocolate, coffee and all the rest is entirely personal. Please don t get led down a garden path by somebody who says I can smell you know winter berries picked on a Wednesday by left handed people! it is not important, that is not how it works.