A beginner's guide to drinking whisky

Have you been curious about how to properly enjoy whisky? Let the experts teach you.

Whisky is one of the oldest liquor's in history, originating over 1000 years ago in Scotland. Also previlant in Ireland, the distilling process in the Scottish highlands makes Scottish whisky or Scotch the most premium dram in the world. 

With a recent wave of appreciation in younger generations, more are wanting to learn about the unique process of how Scotch is made and how to really enjoy it. 

Sharing some initial tips, Master Distiller at The Glen Grant distillery in Scotland, Dennis Malcolm reveals a beginner's guide to whisky tasting:

1. Invest in glassware

Before you begin, consider your glassware and how it may enhance your tasting experience. The preferred tasting glass for Glen Grant whisky is a Glencairn glass. It is shaped with a bulbous bottom and narrow length, to concentrate the aromas. If you don’t have access to a Glencairn glass, try a simple rocks glass, where the wider-mouthed shape allows the fumes to dissipate and bring the aromas forward.

2. Observe the colour

Hold your glass up to natural light to properly observe the whisky’s colour. Whisky can range from a pale amber to a deep brown, where the darker the colour, the more concentrated the flavour. 

3. Distinguish the smell

Gently smell the liquid with your mouth slightly open to savour the best of the whisky’s aroma. You can also use an in and out movement where you put your nose into the glass and then back out again to waft the aroma to your nostrils.

4. Take the time to taste

The key to a proper whisky tasting is sipping small mouthfuls at a time to allow all notes of the flavour to unlock on your tastebuds. Give your palate a chance to adjust to the alcohol content upon your first sip, then take another sip to properly digest all flavours. You can also use a spit bucket to assist with multiple tastings.

5. Consider the finish

Something that makes whisky so special is the aftertaste. After you swallow or spit the whisky, the flavour lingers on your palate and evolves before fading away. Dissect how long the finish is and the notes that develop within this.

6. Expand your horizons

Tasting whisky becomes even more exciting when you begin to recognise the nuances between different bottles and categories. Try the difference between an 18-year-old whisky verse a newer variance and how this affects the taste, aroma and finish.

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