How do you taste whisky? It’s one of the most important questions to confront if you want to appreciate this lovely liquid to the fullest. What shape of glass should you use? Should you add water? Ice? Nose it aggressively or passively? Well, in all this, we happily defer to Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s inimitable master blender (and a third-generation master blender at that). Richard is one of whisky’s most charismatic and entertaining exponents, and in this video he explains how best to taste Scotch whisky.
Now of course, there’s a big difference between properly tasting a whisky and simply sharing a dram socially. If you’re at a bar with friends, we’d suggest that you don’t go shoving your nose too deeply in a glass, or holding it silently (or worse, noisily) in your mouth for prolonged periods. We won’t even stop you piling the glass high with ice or smothering a bourbon with Coke – if you really must.
For really evaluating the character of a whisky, you can’t beat Richard’s prescription, though. A Glencairn glass or nosing copita collects those all-important aromas. Throwing it on the floor, are you serious?Absolutely! OK, don’t do it with a really expensive whisky – and we must admit to being a little more conservative than Mr. Paterson in our floor-throwing measure. But it really does increase the purity of the scent you get, and if you’re interested in thoroughly assessing your dram it helps a great deal (and, if we’re honest, it’s great fun too). We couldn’t stress too much the importance of nosing a whisky – for some drams, without casting aspersions, it really is the best part! So give it a go yourself – slàinte mhath!