• Home
  • Articles
  • Headed For A Whisky Tasting? Make Sure You Know These 5 Important Terms

Headed For A Whisky Tasting? Make Sure You Know These 5 Important Terms

By: Neelanjana Mondal

whisky tasting terms

You absolutely love whisky, beginning to like it or a bit curious and want to sample whisky, the best way to do that is a whisky tasting event. But before you go, you should know a few things including the 5 golden buzzwords of aroma, palate, finish, reflect and repeat. We have keyed these into the article so it will help you find your way around your whisky tasting experience. 

practice your tasting game

Practice Tasting

A glencairn glass is ideal to taste whisky, basically a glass that can be cradled with a broader bottom and a tapering top. Buy some whiskies that you can sample, check the labels and go for different types, that is single malt, blended and other so you get a head start on the tasting experience. Compare the flavours and the mouthfeel to understand the basics. 

sniff your drink before tasting

“Nose” Your Drink

This is what makes the whisky snob sniff their drink like a chef at a cooking show quite often. This is almost like an aperitif for whisky lovers and a great guessing game of sorts for what the whisky might taste like. To catch a whiff of the aroma, pour a little amount, 15ml or so, and swirl it in a bell bottomed, Glencairn glass. Put your nose close to the rim of the glass and take a small whiff, and try to guess the flavours. The smell might remind you of different places like a bakery shop’s cake (floral), the smell of autumn baking (oaky). For example, Antiquity Blue whisky has a discernable malty and rich wood aroma. Another whiff might give you subtle peaty and heather undernotes. 

discerned tasting

Tasting Your Drink

Take a small sip of the whisky and like one does for wine, move it around inside your mouth for a while for the taste. The siwlirling inside your mouth should coat the whole of your mouth allowing you to taste and feel the sensation of numbing if any with the whisky. This is called palating. Can you discern the subtle flavours and single them out? If not, note how the whisky feels inside your mouth, is it dry like how red wine feels, smooth or punchy? 

Note them down and once you’ve had your taste swallow the whisky; this is where you will detect the finish. It’s going to burn, that is a hallmark of whisky, so ignore that and mull over the delicate flavours you might have detected like hints of spice, peaty or vanilla. The flavours that linger are called long finish, ones that stay for a short time are called short finish and anything in between is called medium finish. If Black Dog is on your list, the first taste will give you a mouthful of floral and a sweet taste and you might catch the vanilla and caramel flavours in it. Black Dog has a finish similar to red wine being dry with subtle spice and orangey flavours doing a peek-a-boo.

repeated tasting

Repeat The Tasting

Take a pause and reflect on what notes you noticed in your initial sipping and palating. Did you detect an overwhelming taste of spice that is equal parts aromatic to the nose and warming like it is for Johnny Walker whisky? After screening your first sip and mulling it over, you will know what to look for now, do the same tasting again after allowing your taste buds some rest to un-numb them. You could add a few drops of water to make it easier for yourself. This is especially for those whiskies which have a higher ABV. 

whisky tasting experience

Enjoy Your Tasting Experience

That’s all folks, you have by yourself taken the first step towards tasting a drink that needs bravado. Armed with new-found knowledge, cradle your tasting glass at the whisky tasting spree and swirl it. Spout off your newly found knowledge and remember there’s no right or wrong and this needs practice to be able to spot all of the flavours unlocked by the taste and aroma of the drink.

Make sure to prepare your body before the tasting event, be hydrated and have some food in your stomach to avoid getting intoxicated easily. Drink mindfully, you are going to taste not at a bar to get sloshed and have a good time dancing. Interact with fellow whisky tasters and ask questions. The bartenders and producers will appreciate it as will the people around you.

This content is not available in your location