Every Whisky drinker knows that Whisky tasting is the gateway into any dram. So why do we content ourselves to only taste the predictable, supermarket-shelf bottles?
There is a whole world of Whisky out there and tasting it can give you a glimpse beyond what you already know. Whisky tasting can lead into new areas of knowledge. It is about so much more than deciding whether or not you like an expression or not.
With so many new distilleries and bottlings popping up all the time, we have the greatest opportunity to go out there and embrace taste and what makes every Whisky different.
Learning more about processes behind the importance of Whisky tasting
Tasting shouldn’t just be about the flavour, but also what goes on behind the flavour.
Each distillery will have their own method of creating malt. By tasting different Whiskies from a range of distilleries, you can learn more about processes and how they effect flavour.
Why not try a solera vatted Glenfiddich alongside a small batch cask strength craft brand? Or why not taste a heavily peated Bruichladdich with a Whisky matured in a cask that once held peated Whisky?
Combinations and Theories
There are many different combinations and it’s well worth looking into different distilling processes at each distillery while you do it.
This is the chance to practically understand the differences between how each distillery creates their product.
There are also some interesting theories into how the size and shape of stills effects flavour. Distilleries are very fond of their unique stills, so you can decipher how each still has made a difference in taste.
The perfect example of this is comparing a Glenmorangie to an Edradour. Since the first has the tallest stills in Scotland, and the latter has the smallest.
Learning more about terroir
Terroir is a French term that is used to refer to how environmental factors effect the flavour of the barley. It is also a term that is starting to be used in Whisky making.
This is largely down to Mark Reynier, the pioneer behind Bruichladdich and now the Waterford Distillery in Ireland.
Reynier has always believed in the importance of good quality ingredients. His interest in terroir is all about how the environment barley is grown in will effect the Whisky flavour later.
So taking this idea, it means that you can taste Whiskies and compare the differences that may have come from terroir. This can also be extended to the difference in environment of where a Whisky was matured.
This is a great chance to get to know some craft distilleries better as they are more likely to source their grains locally.
It also means you can explore each country differently, from craft distilleries in America, to bigger brands from places like India or Taiwan.
Tasting Whiskies with terroir and environment in mind will give you a deeper understanding of the complexities of Whisky distilling.
It opens up the subtleties of Whisky
There is no point in tasting only a few of the Whiskies out there. Limiting yourself doesn’t allow you to explore and expand your knowledge of flavour profiles.
By tasting as many different types of Whisky as possible, you can really start to get an idea of why every Whisky is different.
To those starting out with tastings, it may seem like every Whisky is the same. With more practice and by expanding the range of Whiskies that you taste, the flavours really start to develop.
Not only will you have a broader perspective of flavour profiles, but every little characteristic will also start to become apparent.
This is ideal when tasting Whisky from the same distillery, as it allows you to see why each of their drams is different.
With such an incredible range of Whiskies available to us, it is well worth the time in investing in something a little different and seeing where the tasting experience takes you!