I just read an article about whisky tasting that may be of interest. It’s over on Dramming.com and written by OLIVER KLIMEK. You may want to check out the full article. However what I learned is that it takes planning. Here is a synopsis of his thoughts.
When you plan to invite some friends to a whisky tasting there are quite a few things that should be considered. After all, you and your friends want to have the best possible experience with the offered drams. And there are some pitfalls you should avoid.
1. Start with a Meal - No Chili, no Garlic!, Little or no Alcohol
2. Water and Bread.
3. Less is More
4. The Right Order
There are some useful rules of thumb when choosing the order of the whiskies in a tasting session. All can be summarized by the musical term crescendo:
From Low to High ABV (Alcohol by volume)
When you begin your session with a cask strength whisky, your taste buds might be numb from the start. So it is best to start with the “normal” ABV of 40+ and them work your way up to the cask strengths (if planned at all)
From Young to Old -The older a whisky becomes, the more complexity it gains. It is therefore advisable to help your palate adapt to the growing complexity.
From Mild to Strong-This does not mean ABV but the general character of a whisky. If you have heavily peated, sherried or otherwise finished drams on your list as well “untreated” ones, save the strongest ones for later.
From Cheap to Expensive - Sounds a bit cheesy but has its justification. If you are lucky enough to serve a dram of Black Bowmore, you don’t really want it to be followed by a Grouse, no matter how famous.
But then again, a whisky tasting is not a Japanese Tea Ceremony. So, if in doubt, just take one first and then the other.
The right choice of whiskies is very important for the success of a tasting session. It is not just about quality, though. If you’re on a tight budget, you can have a great session even with entry level whiskies only. More important is that the choice is balanced.
It is easy to get lost in the whisky world with its thousands of available bottlings. But even when you narrow down the choice. Here are a few starting points for your inspiration:
Example 1: World Wide Whisky
- Quality blended Scotch (12 year old or older)
- Quality bourbon
- Irish pure pot still or single malt
- Japanese vat or single malt
- Typical Islay
- Speyside sherry monster
Example 2: Islay
- Bunnahabhain 12
- Bowmore 12
- Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition
- Lagavulin 16
- Laphroaig 18
- Ardbeg Lord of The Isles
Example 3: Scotch Regions
- Lowlands: Glenkinchie 12
- Highlands: Dalmore Gran Reserva
- Islands: Highland Park 18
- Islay: Port Ellen n-th Release
- Speyside: Glenfarclas 30 year old