Any good advice for whisky tastings?

General chat and talk about whisky.
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Any good advice for whisky tastings?

Postby kljostad » Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:02 pm

I am eager to set up regular whisky tastings with some of my friends. They are not yet enthusiasts, but they have potential.

I have never arranged or attended a whisky tasting before, so I am eager to find out if anyone has any good advice as to how I can make this a fun experience.

Do you have a new glass for each whisky? How many whiskies is it usual to taste in one tasting? Do you do blind tastings? How many people is it ideal to invite? How often? Do you serve food?

I am grateful for any advice.

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Postby peergynt323 » Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:14 pm

If they're new to whisky, they're pretty much tasting blind anyway, so no need.

I just take a shot of water out of the glass and it's clean. You could wipe it out with a good rag if you don't want any water to get in the way.

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Postby Lawrence » Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:03 am

It is advisable to have one glass for each whisky, then they can go back and forth nosing the different whiskies for differances. Usually people do not exceed about 5 whiskies per session., this will depend on their experience and palate and also is dependant on the strength of the samples. As for how often to meet, that's up to the group. Blind tastings can be fun but usually only after the group have developed some likes and dislikes.

If you want examples of tastings sheet please email me (using the email button on this thread at the bottom of this post) and I'll send you some examples.

Last edited by Lawrence on Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby ColinL » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:55 am

Talk about what you're drinking. That's probably the easiest way to get your guests interested in whisky. Ask them to describe what they're drinking. As soon as they recognize something in common, they'll all start having fun. I find the hardest part about getting noobs interested in whisky is getting them to build the confidence to form their own opinion. People are always intimidated by the afficianado factor. With this in mind, I would make a noob gathering a smaller and more familiar one.

Have fun!
Cool new look, Same great taste!

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Postby les taylor » Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:24 am

Hi ColinL excuse my ignorance what please is a noob?


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Postby peergynt323 » Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:42 am

internet slang for new person->newbie->noob which can be further degenerated into n00b and n008.

Strangely enough some armchair internet linguists determined that a semantic difference has formed between a newbie and a noob. A newbie is a new person who needs to read the manual (rtfm) or do a search (dafs)whereas a noob (often used in internet gaming) is any player of lower skill level. Noobs are often pwned (owned or dominated).

Hope that helps.

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Postby kljostad » Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:22 pm

Thanks for all the great advice, guys!

I have been travelling the last few weeks, so I have not been able to answer you before now.

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Running a tasting

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Mar 31, 2007 2:57 am

Kjolstad wrote: Do you have a new glass for each whisky? How many whiskies is it usual to taste in one tasting? Do you do blind tastings? How many people is it ideal to invite? How often? Do you serve food?

Kjolstad: Sorry for the long posting, but it's a good guide for you to follow.
Based on our experiences in setting up tasting groups in the past, here are the basics which you will require:
1.Whiskies: Select 5-6 whiskies for the tasting. These can be either a planned selection where each attendee brings a specified different whisky or unplanned, with everyone bringing a favorite or something they want to try.
2. Glassware: Have one clean glass for each whisky per person. These can be a tasting copita, an actual whisky tasting glass, or a small wine glass.
3. Water: Have a large tumbler of water for each person and a water pitcher available to fill up the glasses over the course of the tasting. The water can be used for adding a bit to the dram to open the nose as well as for cleansing the palate before the next sample.
4. Sequencing: When setting up the tasting, it would be a good idea to start with a lighter whisky,(ie: a lowland the likes of St. Magdalene) and work through the medium weights (Speysides, Highlands) to the more pronounced whiskies ( Islays like Laphroaig or Lagavulin). To keep track of the samples, a tasting mat with the names of the whiskies set in the tasting sequence, (right to left, front 3 then back 3). To cut down on spillage, I put the tasting mat into a plastic sheet protector.
5. Notes: Prepare a blank tasting notes sheet and a pen or pencil for each attendee.* There are examples on several of the distillery websites as well as in some whisky books. Phillip Hills' Appreciating Whisky has a fairly comprehensive example. Here’s a forum posting that deals with books and some advice:
6. Preparation: Do a bit of homework on the whiskies to be sampled, information on how whisky is made, where the whiskies are distilled and what flavours they should be looking for. You would present this information in a relaxed introduction before anyone starts into the samples. It would be a good idea to talk the group through the first sample explaining nosing, tasting and adding water.
6. Set up: Before the group arrives, the tasting mats, blank notes & pencils, tasting glassware, water tumblers and water pitchers should be set up in advance.
7. Samples: Pre-pour the whisky into each glass filling sample # 1 glasses, rinsing the measure out, then pour the sample # 2 glasses and so on. I would recommend using a tablespoon measure as this ensures that the attendees get a decent sample to nose and taste but don’t get too tipsy too soon. Cover the glasses with at least a sheet of paper once the glasses are charged. If you have watch-glasses (pocket watch face glass) that cover the mouth of the glass, they are ideal.
8. Very important: If people are going to go home after the tasting, arrange a designated driver
9. The Tasting: As your guests arrive, offer them a welcoming dram to sit and enjoy while they wait for everyone to arrive. Casually move everyone to the set up table(s) and after seating them, give a short talk (say 3 minutes) of introduction and explain the basics as well as how to fill in their personal notes. Demonstrate how nosing and tasting is done and then let them discover and talk about the various flavours and aromas they sense, one sample at a time as a group. Keep the atmosphere relaxed and allow people to say what they think they are experiencing and make their notes. As for the note taking, they get sketchier as the night goes on.
You may wish to only sample your dram slightly or, as the host, not drink at all. Personally, I choose to dram with the group.
10. A light snack at the half way point is a good idea for people to get up, chat and sample some crackers, cheese, bread, cold cuts or heated terriaki or honey garlic wings – (not hot wings, they “nuke” the taste buds).

These are the basics for a tasting.
Muskrat Portage

*If you want to put more effort into the tasting notes you can also prepare a set of handouts with:
i) maps of the whisky distillery locations,
ii) a diagram which sets out how whisky is made
iii) a profile of each whisky with tasting notes included (cheat sheets)
iv) some information on nosing and tasting for reference during the tasting.
v) a listing of the various scents and flavours that may be present in the whiskies.
I prepare a copy for each person and put in in a folder for them to refer to and take home with them. Good luck! MP

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Postby killerwhale » Sat Mar 31, 2007 5:57 pm

wow MP that is an excellent post ...... I need to jot it down.

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Postby kljostad » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:52 am

Thanks for all the great advice guys. I had my first tasting yesterday, and I followed a lot of the tips I got from this thread. It went really well, and my guests urged me to do this at least once a month.

All goes well with good helpers like you!

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