How to taste whisky

Use the right glass
The popular way to drink whisky is out of a cut-glass tumbler, but this doesn’t actually do the spirit full justice. For getting the best from a single malt, choose a glass with a tulip shape – wide at the bottom with a tight brim. This concentrates the aromas you’re about to find.

Get the nose:
The “nose” or aroma of a whisky is the first thing you want to discover. Being careful not to get too close, so as not to anesthetise yourself with the alcohol fumes, tilt the glass and take a number of small sniffs. It’s worth trying to visualise the aromas – let the whisky inspire your imagination!

Take a sip:
The idea is try to coat the tongue and the whole of your mouth. Knocking it back will mean you miss out on the flavours as they develop. Hold the whisky in the mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.

Add water:
Don’t listen to people who say that the only way to taste whisky is to drink it straight – they’re wrong. If the initial sip is too strong, adding a few drops of room temperature water will gently release the flavour compounds and reduce the alcohol strength. Adding ice to whisky is not a crime either, but bear in mind that the cooling effect will limit the flavours you should expect to taste.

Get to the finish:
The finish is the lingering aftertaste. This is where you really get a sense of the whisky’s complexity. If the flavours linger, evolving and changing, you have experienced an excellent dram.