Dave Quinn - Head of Whiskey Science at the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, Ireland - knows a lot about whiskey, and quite a bit about how to properly enjoy it. Looking to properly appreciate that character with a few of your friends? Quinn insists you don't need to be a whiskey scholar to host a proper tasting. You just have to be willing to take the time to appreciate a whiskey's subtle flavors. A helpful tip to keep in mind is that sometimes, subject to taste, you might want to add a drop or two of water to a whiskey in order to activate the flavors.
Here’s Quinn’s guide to hosting your own tasting:
1) "The first thing we do is take our glass, and we look at the color of how long the whiskey has spent in the barrel. But it's really only an indication, because color in and of itself doesn't contribute flavor. We give it a swirl, to get a sense of the density of the whiskey."
2) Nose: "We always sniff to get the aroma of the whiskey, rather than going straight into the taste. That will give us a sense of what flavors, maybe, to expect."
3) Taste: "After that, it's a matter of taking a taste. Allow the whiskey to sit on the palate for a moment, and breathe in through the nose. That allows the breath to oxidize the whiskey on the palate. What that does is, it allows the full flavor of the whiskey to be experienced on the palate. Just allow it to sit there for a moment, before taking another sip."
4) Finish: "At that stage, the taste becomes quite evident. You get the full flavors, and then you wait to see the length of the finish. Sometimes it's short. Other times it can linger, and the heat can envelop the mouth, and that's fine, depending on the different styles of whiskey.”
5) “And that's it, now it’s time to enjoy. Sláinte!”