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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Portland, OR

    How do you first taste a new whiskey

    I'm new here. Have not done a lot of taste testing. Normally drink Jack with a couple of ice cubes. Tried a few different brands over the last couple of months and didn't like them much. But I think I'm not letting go of what jack tastes like. I may have not liked them because they were different. I also discovered that I had bad ice. I tried Knob Hill and thought it tasted green. Don't know if that is an official term but that was the first word that came to mind after first tasting it. Then I read a thing on making ice from bottled water. I bought an ice cube tray and tried it. WOW what a huge change in the taste of whiskey without all the stuff in unfiltered tap water. I now have a filter on my ice maker because I don't want to go back to making ice in trays. Anyway the green taste went away in the Knob Hill with the new ice. Now I have to go back and retry several bottles of whiskey because with my short term memory issues I don't remember if I tried them with clean ice. So now comes my question. How do you taste a whiskey? What kind of glass? Do you swirl and sniff it, take a tiny sip, swish around, swallow, and suck air? Use ice? Or just throw down a shot and see what happens.

    A comment: I have noticed a lot of people use a picture of a dog. That is cool. I think I will put up a pic of my black dog named Jack.

    Looking forward to reading your technique.
    Last edited by JimS; 09-04-2007 at 14:14.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Re: How do you first taste a new whiskey

    Welcome to the site.

    How many whiskey tasters are there? That's probably the number of techniques used. They are all pretty similar however. I notice you like your whiskey on the rocks. My technique may not help because I taste my whiskey neat. I like to use a regular whiskey nosing glass, however a clear tulip shaped wine glass works just as well. I usually put a clean lid on the glass after I pour the whiskey, this helps trap the aroma in the glass. First I hold it up to the light and examine the color, clarity, and overall appearance. Since you use ice, you may detect a cloudiness if you try non chill filtered whiskey. That doesn't hurt a thing and should not detract from the flavor. Gently swirl the glass to get some whiskey on the sides of the glass (keeping a finger on the lid). Observe the legs coming down the sides of the glass. The amount of legs and the speed at which they come down usually give an indication of the body of the whiskey. next I remove the cover and smell the whiskey. I don't stick my nose in the glass and inhale deeply or I get an alcohol burn that ruins any further nosing for me, I usually inhale normally while passing the glass under my nose. Think of the first thing that comes to your mind aromawise, wood, smoke, honey, licorice, etc. The next smell I go a little longer and deeper and try to detect aromas that I missed the first time around. After I've investigated the nose I put a few drops on the end of my tongue and let it float all over my tongue. I've found that chewing actually helps distribute and release the flavors. I try to pick out as many flavors as I can, then I wait - the flavors will change on the finish. I then repeat the last step until the glass is empty. The main thing is to enjoy. Hope this helps.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Pelham, AL

    Post Re: How do you first taste a new whiskey

    To me, how I taste is not a huge big deal. I usually open a bottle and pour a small shot. I nose it. Then I sip it a couple of times. Then I may add a very few drops of water and sip a couple of more times. Then I may cut it with about 1/3 water, i.e., adding about half as much water as I have whiskey.

    Each one of these steps will usually present a different taste experience. Certainly, the purity of the water/ice you use is a huge factor.

    Or, I might just taste it however I feel like it at the time.

    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Austin, Texas

    Re: How do you first taste a new whiskey

    Everything stated already and any other way you can experience the bourbon is great. I don't use ice when tasting or drinking, usually. There is also the trial; putting a dime size dollup of bourbon in one hand and then rub your hands together. Smell your hands to get the arroma of your bourbon. It should be noted that washing your hands before, is quite improtant.
    So far, I have not tried any bourbons that I can truely say were awful. Some I didn't like very much, though they were better than blended whisky. Have fun and don't be affraid to try a new bottling.

    Jeff Mo.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Northwest of Peoria

    Re: How do you first taste a new whiskey

    Welcome to the forum, Jim

    I drink most whiskeys neat so that is how I taste a new one. I put a very small (three quarter ounce pour) in a Ridel bourbon glass let it sit for a few minutes and then nose the glass by holding it a few to several inches from my nose, inhaling slowly but deeply. That helps to prevent the alcohol fumes from being overpowering: inhaling slowly. I sip cautiously letting the whiskey coat every part of my tongue.

    After the glass is empty, well, not quite empty. On purpose leave a tiny half sip in the bottom. I spend some time just nosing the empty glass. I find that helps to familiarize myself to the more nuanced aromas of something I've never had before.



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