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Whiskey Tasting 101

You arrive to the latest gathering with your friends and you notice something a little different. The table is full of smaller bottles and tulip shaped glasses with stubby stems instead of the usual wine glasses. Once the golden liquid is poured into your glass, the smell is overwhelming, but in a delightfully overwhelming way. Sniff, swirl, swish and swallow. You’re enjoying this.

The group gathered discusses how the bottles were stored for years, where the flavors you’re tasting are from, how they are made and you continue to enjoy the golden liquid with what looks like pumice stones in the glass. Whiskey tastings are becoming more and more common as people are discovering how they appreciate the multitude of flavors found in different Whiskey varieties.

Everyone is familiar with a wine tasting event, but as whiskey’s popularity grows, you may find yourself at a whiskey tasting in the near future. It’s easy to enjoy whiskey when there is such a large variety. Whiskey can be distilled in multiple different forms, have many different ingredients and just like wine, can be stored for different times creating many different flavors. Many people shy away from Whiskey due to it’s intensity and reputation, but don’t be intimidated. As you find yourself tasting, make sure to take time between the different whiskeys to cleanse your palate so you can fully enjoy each whiskey tasting.



Tulip shaped glasses are said to be the best because you can swirl the whiskey and release some of its flavor and aroma without spilling the drink. The Whiskey’s aroma will also sit at the neck of the glass and will allow you to be able to get the best sniff of the flavors. This also allows the Whiskey to breath and will give you a more full experience of the flavors in the Whiskey.


Whiskey can taste different and more flavors can be released when it’s chilled rather than served at room temperature and vice versa. Make sure to try it both ways. Whiskey can be watered down but it can lose its flavors with water. You can also use Whiskey Stones to keep your drink chilled without adding water to the Whiskey.


Many do not pair Whiskey with food, but it’s becoming more popular as Whiskey shows up on more menus and at more events. A fresh, light-bodied Lowland single malt will pair nicely with a lighter fish dish, whereas a richer Whiskey may be better paired with red meat. As with wine, a lighter, sweeter Whiskey would pair better with any dessert or sweet meal after dinner. Many opt to enjoy a glass of Whiskey on the rocks after dinner for dessert as well.


Before you sniff, swirl, swish and swallow, hold it up to the nearest light to see how it may or may not sparkle. A good whiskey will glisten in the light. Whiskeys that have been stored longer are also generally darker and have a more intense flavor.


Remember, if you don’t like the Whiskey, you don’t have to drink it! Many people feel pressured to like a new drink, especially in a tasting atmosphere, but the one you may be trying might not be the one for you. Keep trying until you find the one that is perfect for your palate.

Tasting is all about enjoying and experiencing new flavors and trying new things so don’t be nervous and take your time when you try each one. It’s important to let the Whiskey you are trying to engulf your taste buds to really get the full flavor. You may not like the Whiskey everyone else is raving about, but don’t worry, everyone’s taste buds are so unique and different, once you find the Whiskey for you, you’ll know.

Drink responsibly, people. And, as always: Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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