Tasting whisky

When tasting whisky, use a clean glass for each drink, have a small jug of water to use when diluting the spirit slightly, and drink more water between each tasting to cleanse the palate. it's a good idea to keep notes as you go.

Appearance: Consider the whisky's colour. Swirl the spirit in the glass and look at the “legs” that trickle down the inside. If they are slow running and thick, it indicates good body, while skinny, fast running legs suggest a thinner texture to the whisky.

Aroma: Swirl the liquid and sniff it. Note first the physical effects (if any) – prickle, sharpness, warming, cooling. Then try to put words to the smells. Add a drop of water and repeat.

Taste: By all means taste the whisky straight, but its character can best be appreciated once a little water has been added. Note the texture or “mouthfeel” – smooth, oily, waxy, drying, acerbic, and so on. Then consider the balance of the four primary tastes: sweetness, acidity, dryness, saltiness. Does the overall taste remind you of anything? Finally, how long is the finish, and does it leave a pleasant aftertaste?

Development: After 10 minutes or so, sniff and taste the whisky again to see if it has changed.