via Digital Nomad
1. LOOK See the color of the liquid—this is part of the whisky’s personality. New whisky is clear, but gains its color from the oak barrels used during maturation. Color can range from brassy yellow to golden reds or a pale sunshine. The color of Scotch hints at how it was made.
2. SWIRL With your hand on the bottom of a round tasting glass, swirl the whisky until it coats the sides. Look for the “legs”—the drips of liquid pulling back down into the glass. Watch how quickly the legs run down the side of the glass—this reveals how light the whisky is. Some whisky is very light, with lots of legs (an indication of light flavor), while others can be viscous or oily indicating an older, heavier-bodied whisky. A very thick whisky will coat the glass like the golden silhouette of Scottish mountains.
3. NOSE Tasting whisky is an olfactory experience, so in order to capture all the nuance of flavor, you must “nose” the whisky. “Smell with your mouth open,” counsels Angela, explaining how it offers a fuller nose. “At first you might just get the alcohol. Adding a splash of water releases the aromas.” Bring the glass back and forth—nose it deeply again and again. “Whisky is a sensory experience, so get your nose right up in the glass!” says Angela, who told me that anyone can learn to nose whisky. “The best way to improve your sense of smell is to smell everything.” This allows your brain to create a kind of encyclopedia of scents. (My brain smells bacon.)
4. TASTE When you’re ready to drink, let the whisky coat the palate. “Some are creamy and smooth, others light and fruity,” explains Angela. Adding water releases aromas, adding ice will lock them in. “There are a lot of ‘rules’ about adding water, but don’t pay any attention to that. Different brands react differently to water, so find out what you like. The important thing is to just enjoy your whisky.” Also, remember to say Slàinte Mhath! (Good Health)
5. FINISH “Finish” does not mean tossing back your drink like real men do in the movies. Rather, the finish is the whisky’s grand finale where you feel the flavor and tempo of the drink. “Once you’ve swallowed, see how long it stays with you. Scotch whisky can be quick and short or it can be very long and warming.”