The Importance of Whisky Tasting

let’s begin

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.

Test Yourself

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!

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let’s have a chat

Tags: bottlingsdistilleriesexpressionTastingWhiskyWhisky Drinker
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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6 thoughts on “The Importance of Whisky Tasting”

  1. I’ve been reading some of your articles. I started drinking single malt whisky (whitout “e” because it is a too big world) about an year ago for the quantity of people and reviews of it (I know, I’m from a wine and brandy country but these kind of beverages are too expensive to make multiple bottle mistakes ). I have been trying to find a Laddie Ten (great whisky for many) near Portugal (in a reasonable price) to try and taste Bruichladdich distillery and their selected Barley’s “thing”, the same way I tried to understand the Bourbon influence (Auchentoshan/Glenfindich) vs sherry influence (Glendronach 12), for example. What do you think?

    PS: “Terrior” does not exist. “Terroir” is the correct french word

    • Hi Gonçalo,

      Many thanks for your comment… The Laddie Ten is superb, but sadly we have no knowledge of their export strategy or what markets certain products are in… a great choice though… maybe email the brand through their website and see if they are able to help you find one? They are good people and usually very helpful. I do not have a direct contact to pass on though. Sorry – thanks for the heads up on the typo, will check and change. G

  2. Hey Greg,

    I’ve been looking for alternatives but the guys at Bruichladdich make their bottles bloody confusing! I understand that the Laddie ten was somehow a “too big step” due to their shortage of drams (from what I read). But then they had bottles with “The Classic Laddie 1rst edition, Scottish Barley – The Classic Laddie and now the The Classic Laddie – Scottish Barley.
    Are all the “same” (With all the usual small differences between bottlings) whisky?
    Even in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, you have “The Classic Laddie” and “Scottish Barley – The Classic Laddie” with different tasting notes.
    What is your advice regarding my Bruichladdich stop in my whisky journey?
    Best regards.

  3. I’m glad you talked about how by tasting as many different types of Whisky as possible, you can really start to get an idea of why every Whisky is different. In light of this, I’ll think about buying Rye Whisky when I go shopping on Friday. I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the past two weeks due to the stress at work, so I’m seeking a method to unwind both mentally and physically.


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