1) Neat in a tulip shaped glass; this is how I choose to taste a whisky for the first time or when writing a tasting (for beginners, “tulip shaped” can get very specific, but generally any glass that narrows at the top will do nicely). I always use the same glass for consistency sake (but I wash it after each use, I promise).
2) The Nose. The first thing you notice about a quality (or poor quality) whisk(e)y when you bring it up to your nose is the aroma. Some aroma’s are gentle and pleasant, some are harsh and overpowering, while others find delicate balance. My goal when describing the nose of a whisky is to let you know what to expect. Some reviewers like to tell you all sorts of wondrous things they can smell when they nose a whisky. It’s a great skill, but as I am designing this site mainly for those looking to jump into whisky, I choose to list only the obvious. There is a large chance you’ll smell something I didn’t or that you’ll experience the nose of a whisky in a different way. That’s fine, it’s just part of the process.
3) Mouth Feel. It’s really easy to put a label on the body of a whisk(e)y but the difficult part for an amateur drinker is knowing what the difference between “medium” and “full” is. Most experienced drinkers will admit to having gone back to something they once thought was a full bodied spirit to find it much more mellow the second time through. What I aim to describe here is not only the body of the whisky but also the tastes and effects it has on the mouth. Does it drink dry like a red wine? Does the taste overwhelm the taste buds or is it there just enough to be noticed and nothing more?
4) Finish. Everyone knows how you finish is important. Just ask your significant other. Does the taste linger after you swallow? Does it remain on your lips? Is there a lot of burn?
5) My goal with each tasting is to give you enough information for you to decide if a whisk(e)y is worth spending your hard earned money on, based on your preferences. I hope to start conversations with my readers about wonderful, wonderful spirits. I’ll leave any closing notes here.