Tips on how best to taste your whisky if you’re a novice

14 March 2019 - 15:15
By Thembalethu Zulu
Image: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images
Image: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images

The Glenlivet brand ambassador Marco Vandeput gives us the lowdown on how best to enjoy your whisky: First off, drink your whisky the way you like it! You bought it, so you are entitled to enjoy it however you please. Nevertheless, I’d love to share some basic guidelines and suggestions when tasting a fine single malt scotch for the first time.

1. Nose your whisky: Take the time to smell the aromas of the whisky, as your sense of smell is the strongest of your five senses. I encourage you to nose more than you taste or drink. Lift the glass up towards your nose, take a deep breath-in through your mouth and your nose, inhaling and appreciating its complex aromas. Be sure not to bring the glass too close, as the strength of the alcohol can often numb a novice’s senses.

Marco Vandeput
Image: Supplied Marco Vandeput

2. Taste: Take a small sip of the whisky and swirl it around your mouth, let it touch your cheeks, the roof of your palate and the bottom of your mouth under your tongue. Allow the liquid to stream in front of your teeth and touch your gums and the inside of your lips. Then, let it sit in the middle of your mouth before slowly swallowing the spirit.

3. Add Water: I would then proceed to add a splash of water to open up the whisky and to water down the alcohol content so you taste more of the whisky and less of the ABV (alcohol by volume). This will allow the aromas and flavours to become more pronounced. Once water has been added, proceed to nose and taste the whisky again and, immediately, you might notice a change in the flavour and aroma.

4. Ice: I recommend not adding ice when tasting a specific whisky for the first time, as the ice suppresses the aromas and flavour char