How to Taste Whisky Like a Pro
Some say that learning to appreciate the subtle nuance of whisky is more challenging than becoming an expert wine sommelier. Yes, the rules of nosing and tasting that apply to wine are not the same as those employed by whisky aficionados. Don't let that put you off, though. With dedication, practice, and some basic knowledge, you can become a whisky master.
Here is how to taste whisky like a pro.
The art of whisky tasting is complex but totally worth the effort to learn. Follow a few basic guidelines, and you'll soon be on your way to appreciating whisky like a pro. Start by pouring a small amount of Shene Solera Cask or other whisky into a Glencairn glass or a traditional rocks glass. Then, turn your attention to these four basics:
Hold the glass up to a light and careful observe the natural amber color of your pour. Natural whisky colors range from a pale straw color to a deep nut brown. Take note of clarity and viscosity, too. As a rule of thumb, darker whiskies offer more concentrated flavour than their paler counterparts.
Once you've marveled at the color, it's time to detect the myriad aromas that emanate from your whisky. You'll do this via a process called 'nosing' which can be done several ways. Some tasters prefer to lift the glass to their nose, pull it away, and repeat. Other prefer to hover their nose over the glass as the aromas waft upward. Some even rotate the whisky glass around their nose, claiming the aromas change at the three, six, nine o'clock and noon positions. An open mouth is said to increase aroma detection, too. It doesn't matter how you nose your whisky, as long as you don't hurry.
Shene Solera Cask whisky delivers a nose-feel reminiscent of springtime in Tasmania. Pay attention, and you will detect lovely wafts of dried cherries, plums, figs, and sweetly spiced honey.
Now that it's time to take a taste, you'll want to go slow and savor small sips. The first sip may sting a bit as your tongue adjusts to the alcohol content of your whisky. Don't worry about this natural reaction. With practice, you may find the slight burn of a good whisky to be quite pleasurable. Swallow or spit your first sip, then swirl the glass to release additional flavours and aromas.
This time, swish a small sip of whisky around your mouth so it touches every part of your tongue and palate. Don't be shy about any chewing noises you make as you observe individual flavours while noting whether detectable flavour combinations are harmonious. By the third sip, you will begin to notice the structure of your whisky and how it evolves from beginning to middle to end. A perfect whisky will be balanced, sophisticated and enjoyable from first sip to last. Shene Solera Cask whisky offers a range of subtle flavours, including vanilla, toasted cinnamon, cherries, and cloves with a hint of black pepper around the edges.
After your third sip, carefully discern the evolving aftertastes as the whisky lingers on your tongue and palate. Note how long it takes for the flavours to fade away. After savoring three small sips, you may want to see how a full pour of whisky responds to a few drops of water or an ice cube. Shene Solera Cask whisky finishes with a gentle tingle of spicy, aromatic bitters.
Come try a taste for Yourself
If you'd like to learn how to taste whisky with us, pre-book a private tour at Shene Estate. We'll show you where it all began, in a series of 19th century convict-constructed structures that remain true to the Gothic Revival ideal.
For $70 per person, we'll show you around the distillery and cooperage. And we’ll teach you everything you want to know about the Shene Solera maturation system, including how to taste whisky in a personal tasting.