Situation: you’ve finally got an evening to hang out with a couple of your mates- it just so happens that you also have some whiskies between the lot of you. What ever shall you do? Solution: surely the best-case scenario is to share the lot and have a delicious whiskey tasting amongst yourselves (some food before, during or after is also more than likely a wise decision).
The Selection Process
Selecting what spirits to offer for this sort of gathering will change from person to person in that your selections will likely match palate or preferences; however, there are often choices that will provide ample satisfaction for all of those who participate in your tasting (or just meander in to drink from time to time as the event continues).
Producing an Order to the Tasting
While some will say that there is no right or wrong way to order your tasting, I have found that selecting bottles that are more mild-mannered and progressing toward your stronger beverages (whether it is merely your alcohol percentage [e.g. cask strength] or by its ‘off-putting nature’; likely a peated whisky). If there is a bottle of particular interest or it is a drink that no one has tasted before, I often put the bottle toward the middle of the tasting so that you have a compass for your palate to base its decision on.
Drinking, Sampling, Enjoying!
Now that you have your drinks picked, your order sorted, and your drinking glasses ready, you’ve got the green light to start drinking. If you’re taking notes or care to press further into the whiskies by whiffing aromas and by taking light sips to delve into the complexity of the spirit, go for it! Otherwise, just enjoy the experience. Those who prefer a good nosing would be happy to try either the Riedel Vinum series glasses or the Glencairn glasses with lids- but any glass you prefer should suffice. If you’re serious about your drinking, try to notice three areas of tasting:
- The Nose: The way the spirit smells- take note of spices, maltiness, peat, or wood flavoring.
- The Palate: What the drink tastes like- this can be different from the nose, but often times compliments it well while allowing you to further process what is being consumed.
- The Finish: What tastes linger after swallowing, as well as how long these sensations last.
For this particular article Alex, Chris, and I decided to take some notes as we went about how our palates differentiated from one another and how our preferences in whiskies aligned so that we could pick our next tasting more easily.
During our tasting we decided to take notes in whatever fashion made the most sense to each of us. While Alex and I take a more standard route, our fellow gent Chris made each of his entries a sort of poetic soliloquy.
Glenlivet 12 Single Malt
Honey, caramel, smooth flavor and finish with a light spiciness. Want more.
A flavor that tastes like pearses
A fire that burns like flareses
A smokey bouquet
Could drink it all day
Until I fall down the stairses
- Nose: Caramel, sweetness, light medicinal scent.
- Palate: Pear and light spice.
- Finish: clear, warm, moderate duration. Flavor resides unaltered until flavor dissipates completely.
- Additional notes: pleasant and familiar- an old classic and an often revisited Scotch.
Teeling Single Malt
Citrus, refreshing flavor with spice, dissipates fast.
From the mist comes warmth
From the warmth blooms flame, bright red
A blazing lotus
- Nose: Moderate medicinal nature; while toffee and sweetness beckon toward its tasting.
- Palate: Sweetness and spicy notes with a bouquet of pepper and light bitterness compiling while dancing delicately over the tongue.
- Finish: Large quantities of sweetness that churn over the palate as it diminishes over its modest duration.
- Additional notes: A quality addition to any bar or collection. Uncommonly found in our locale, but can be purchased with any length of searching. Make sure to get the single malt- not the other offerings if you wish the same tasting that we had.
Alex: Super smooth, oak, incredibly sweet, no burn, great beginner whisky, keeps you coming back for more. Favorite whisky of the night.
Yea, like water over polished stone
Doth the finest scotch flow
Imperfect in its lack of draconic passion
Yet refined in its pastry sweetness
Whilst the blind may seek virtue
Amongst the world of the living
They may find it here
Sunken in among less fine dregs
As a pharaoh may rise
From his enslumbered crypt
To find his works despaired
Glenfiddich is the joy of generations
- Nose: Delicate sweetness, vanilla notes permeate.
- Palate: Sweet with no medicinal quality, smooth and refined.
- Finish: Smooth and delicate- a truly refined beverage. Drinks like water with the delectable sensations of whisky. Modest duration in comparison to some other whiskies, but it is truly a benchmark selection from the Speyside region.
- Additional notes: An excellent choice for an aperitif, during a light meal, or as a dessert selection. Sweet, no medicinal nature, and elegantly smooth presence through its entirety.
Balvenie 12 Doublewood
Alex: Sweet, light warmth, quick dissipation, light spices- but not overwhelming.
Kings count their courtly pleasures
Less than the whiskey of their leisures
A cake in cups that runneth over
An ideal meal to finest closure
- Nose: Refreshingly sweet, presents with notes of vanilla and caramel.
- Palate: Caramel and toffee tones flow alongside vanilla. Lightly spiced for a complex overall flavor profile.
- Finish: Quick and precise. Sweet with little to no burning sensations. Gives soft warmth toward the end of its subtle ending.
- Additional notes: An absolute dessert or end of evening scotch. Pleasant and comfortable for even the most mild of Scotch drinkers.
Alex: Toki- the Japanese word for “time” tells of a new whisky for the Suntory brand, and one made in a truly unique style. Strong alcohol smell, reminds me of sake, vanilla flavor, quick finish.
Clean and odorous
Fine as clean-cut Cypress
A gavel slam
A judge’s harsh intent
A rampant teen defying tradition from a bed of rice
- Nose: Moderate medicinal qualities, light wafts of apple and vanilla.
- Palate: Medicinal nature, strong senses of oak and tinges of vanilla. Seems confused at times, but it is pleasant nonetheless.
- Finish: Rapid finish leaving the palate almost cleansed in a strange way…
- Additional notes: A young whiskey from Japan made in a unique blended style between multiple brands from the Suntory household.
Robert Burns Single Malt
Alex: Chocolate, sweet but dark in nature, insanely good for its cost.
- Nose: Light medicinal nature, malty sensations on the nose.
- Palate: Rich and complex compiled of many different flavor profiles. Tastes of chocolate, deep maltiness, and pear.
- Finish: Smooth finish with comforting warmth and a mild duration to the finish.
- Additional notes: A young whisky on the market, and when purchase was not readily available in the US market (though that may have changed since early October)- but it is certainly a Scotch to look for and experience.
Kilchoman Coull Point Single Malt
Alex: Overwhelming oak smell, smells like cooked meat, delicious smoky aftertaste, vanilla, spicey, a very special drink.
Smokier than mountains
Brighter than suns
An evening with your favorite band
Problems have no names
The future is infinity
Also sweet bologna
- Nose: Pungent levels of peat and smoke. Smells like a campfire billowing smoke from punky wood.
- Palate: Smoky, excessively flavorful.
- Finish: Long duration with a powerful finish. Remnants of the peaty deliciousness (or horror, for some) endure for minutes after the beverage has been consumed.
- Additional notes: Potent levels for those that enjoy a more peaty drink- however, it may be too overbearing for a younger Scotch drinker or one that does not enjoy a peaty flavor. A definite treat for those that enjoy peat!
Ending the night
While it’s never fun to end the party, tasting events I’ve gone to in the past leave a short period of time after the last drink on the list has been tasted for participants to go back through and re-taste their favorites. Keep an eye out- whether it’s whisky, beer, or sake, we hope you’ll join in to our next foray in our journey. If you have something you’d like us to try, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to include it in the next tasting.