The Finer Points of Tasting Whiskey

Walk into any bar, restaurant, or liquor store and the offering of spirits are staggering. There are literally thousands of vodkas, gins, whiskeys and liqueurs available for the consumer. While wine and beer tastings have been popular for a number of years, whiskey tastings are only just beginning to find an audience. The reason? The idea of drinking spirits straight can be extremely difficult for an individual to grasp. Many might find the idea of slowly sipping a single malt scotch or a bourbon to be overwhelming. Enjoying spirits straight, meaning without any mixers, has always been thought of as an “acquired taste”. However, while your taste buds might not be acclimated to a single malt scotch if you have never had one, there are some basic practices that you can employ to make the experience an enjoyable one and open up your palate to the wonderful flavors the spirits world has to offer.

If you are tired of ordering the same old vodka tonic or cosmopolitan and want to try something new, then the following tips might make the experience of tasting whiskey more rewarding. 강남풀싸롱

Why the apprehension?

One of the reasons that drinking high proof spirits such as whiskey can be a bit of shock to the system is the fact that it is high in alcohol content. Many whiskeys are 80 proof which means it is 40% alcohol by volume. There are some scotches and bourbons that can reach upwards of over a 100 proof. Compare that to wine which is approximately 12-15% alcohol by volume and beer which can run anywhere from approximately 4% to 10% alcohol by volume and you can see why spirits pack a punch. That punch can be immediately felt in your mouth as the “burn” of alcohol can overshadow any of the flavors that are present in the spirit.

The Tasting Process

Now you know that the alcohol is going to have an effect of your taste. So how does one go about getting beyond that and actually tasting what the distillers have so carefully created for your enjoyment?

Tip #1-Know what are you drinking.

You are about to taste a bourbon for the first time. Do you even know what bourbon is? What it’s made of? This knowledge will help in the tasting process and while you do not need to be an expert on bourbon to enjoy it, a little baseline knowledge always helps. Bourbon is a whiskey with the predominant ingredient being corn, the secondary ingredient being wheat, rye or a combination of both. Knowing that small bit of information will already prepare your brain to process the taste. Additionally bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels. Again, this image can conjure up additional taste descriptions such as woody or dry, even a burnt taste. Charring brings out the sugars in the wood. Know that might conjure up images of vanilla or caramel. Just a little knowledge will help prepare your senses on what to look for when tasting.

If you are not sure about what you are drinking, check the bottle or ask your server or bartender. A little information can go a long way. My one caveat to this tip would be to initially avoid reading too many reviews online or in publications. Remember that a review is simply one man’s (or woman’s) opinion and specific, detailed descriptions might have too much influence on your mental palate.

 

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