A simple guide to tasting whisky
Jun 22, 2023
Our distillery tasting room has been open since February 2021, where we have welcomed whisky enthusiasts of all levels, from experienced drinkers to first-timers. Through these tastings, we've compiled some top tips for enjoying whisky that we hope can enhance your own dram experience. So, why not grab a bottle of Backwoods whisky and follow our steps below?
- Clear your palate. There’s lots of ways to do this; black coffee, dark chocolate, plain crackers, even a glass of water can help
- Avoid smell contamination, such as perfumes, colognes, scented handwash, fresh flowers, and cooking
- Skip the ice. This tightens the molecules in the whisky and prevents the aromas from escaping. Ice will make your whisky lose its sweetness and taste much more bitter (fine for a casual drink but for a tasting experience, best to skip it)
- Warm the whisky to body temperature by cupping your glass with your hand. Place your other hand over the top of the glass to trap the aromas as the whisky warms up. As the molecules warm up, the flavours and aromas intensify and your senses are designed to taste best at body temperature
- Note the viscosity. Swirl the glass and look for the streaks of liquid which run down the inside of the glass. These are known as the ‘legs’ and indicate viscosity or ‘mouthfeel’. The thicker the legs, the more voluptuous the mouthfeel
- Nose the whisky. We prefer a tulip shaped glass with a stem as it helps the aromas to rise to your nose. When nosing your whisky, avoid putting your nose in the glass and taking a big sniff! We suggest to tip the glass and gently take in the aroma, one nostril at a time. It also helps to keep your mouth open. Sounds weird but it works!
- The first sip. Take a sip of the whisky, but don’t swallow it yet. Hold the whisky in your mouth and let it coat your tongue before you swallow. This allows your mouth to warm up to the alcohol and you will be able to taste the warm and sweet flavours (rather than just a burning alcohol sensation)
- You may like to add a small amount of water. It’s best to use a water dropper or add water to a teaspoon, so you can control the amount. Start with a couple of drops. Adding water can also encourage and release new flavours and aromas, so it’s always a fun experiment to play with!
- Take another sip. Again, take it slow and let the whisky coat your mouth before swallowing. Think about the notes you’re tasting in the whisky. Our Backwoods' whiskies are often characterised by notes of butter, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. However, what I personally love, are the nostalgic notes that it evokes - memories of cooking with your nan, chopping wood with your pop, or simply sitting by the fire with your closest friends.
We hope that these tips can encourage you to try whisky or if you already love it, perhaps you discovered something new. This is why we love the world of whisky, there is always so much more to discover and many new experiences to share.