There are no wrong or right answers in whisky tasting

on Apr 03 in Single Malt Whisky by James

As my knowledge and experience with whisky begins to grow (at a snails pace) one begins to ponder where this journey might end up. At the moment I am happy struggling trying to identify smells and flavours, to the point where I will go and buy some foam banana sweets to try and confirm or eliminate my suspicions. Is the end game to be able to nose a whisky, take a sip and then say something profound or is this my worst nightmare?

I think it is important to keep reminding myself that there is no wrong or right answer. If you feel a whisky smells like your grandfathers favorite brand of pipe tobacco. Or you can taste sherbet pips like the ones you bought as a child then good…no….awesome for you. Making connections between real life experiences, events and people is something far more important than someone telling you that a whisky tastes of varnish JUST BECAUSE they said so.

While you might enjoy reading this blog and what we have to say about the whisky we are tasting. I urge you to ignore what you read here, the back of a bottle or someones ‘tasting notes’. Explore the whisky and draw your own conclusions, enjoy it with friends and create new memories and associations. Don’t be afraid to challenge and stand by what you feel, taste and smell.

Some pointers (I know I told you to ignore me) to help you on your way.

  • Try using a whisky nosing glass, the shape concentrates the aroma and should make it easier to ‘identify’ smells
  • Add some water. This lowers the percentage proof, and unlocks the whiskys flavour.
  • If you want to identify smells and flavours on the fly then you need to know what those flavours and smells actually are! Smell and taste spices, fruits, sweets, wood, smoke etc etc etc. Familiarise and immerse yourself in the wonderful aromatic world we live in.
  • Taste the bloody whisky. Try as many as you can, at different times of the day, compare them, with or without food, people, different settings etc etc. (Be sensible, I am making the assumption you are able to interpret this point as intended)
  • Enjoy it



  • dancave says:

    I totally agree, and would add would go so far as to say reading ANY tasting notes before you try it yourself will colour your preception of the whisky. Just get some up your nose and then down your neck and see where it takes you. THEN read up on it, try with ice (Or not: Ice or no ice in your whisky) see what changes, and most of all stick with it and seek out the deep flavours and what they do for YOU.

  • James says:

    I’d also add don’t be disappointed or feel that “you’re doing it wrong” if you smell or taste something different to everybody else! I remember having a , erm , small disagreement with a friend over whether it was Liquorice Allsorts or Kola Kubes we could smell. In the end we agreed to disagree and got down to the serious business of enjoying the Whisky

    • dan says:

      I would second that, its all about what you take from the whisky, not what others say you should get.

      As relative noobs ourselves we have found that enjoying whisky is about finding what you like and flavours you enjoy, even if you can’t ID them right away. It’s not about following what anyone says (least of all us) but maybe using some of the info out there to help you get started in the right direction.

    • Ice says:

      This is the perfect way to break down this infromation.

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