Drinking whisky is even more fun if you do it with friends or family. At home with a very small group or (especially nowadays) online. Five tips to organize your own whisky tasting!
Part I – Drinking Whisky for Beginners
Part II – How to Choose The Right Whisky for The Holidays
Last weeks you have been able to read everything about the origin of whisky and choosing the right bottle. But drinking whisky is of course even more fun if you do this with friends or family, in the form of a whisky tasting! Nothing is more fun than tasting together and sharing the different experiences. Think of a table full of family or friends, candles on and fine music in the background…
Unfortunately, for many of us that’s not possible this year. That being said, a whisky tasting with a very small group at home or via Zoom is still possible and at least as much fun. With these tips for sure!
1. Tune the whiskies to your audience
If you are all novice whisky drinkers, choose softer and lighter flavors than when you are with experienced drinkers. The whiskies of The Famous Grouse are very suitable. And are you really seasoned whisky geeks? Then of course you will be looking for some very exceptional whiskies, which your friends (hopefully) don’t know yet.
2. Choose a theme
Four or five different whiskies is a nice number for a tasting. And don’t offer your guests whole glasses, but a maximum of 1 or 2 sips per whisky. To make the selection of those four or five whiskies a little easier, you may choose a certain theme. Think for example of a Scottish tasting (the whiskies of The Famous Grouse fit perfectly with this). Of course, you make yourself familiar with the theme so you can give some background information and funny facts about the chosen whiskies.
For example, in Scotland there is a distillery that claims to have its own ghost, with the most exciting stories as a result of course. Another funny fact: the first commercial ever made was for a whisky brand. Also nice: let your guests bring their own whisky based on the theme, including the matching story of course. At an online tasting, everyone passes on their choice to you and you make sure that all participants receive a sample of the chosen whiskies.
3. Make sure you have the setup right
Okay, the selection has been made. Next, it is important to determine the correct order. The rule here is: start with the most light and accessible whiskey such as The Famous Grouse Finest or The Famous Grouse Ruby Cask and build up to the most complex and smoky flavor, such as the Smoky Black by Famous Grouse. Usually this means starting with the ‘youngest’ whisky and ending with the whisky that has matured the longest and is therefore the ‘oldest’.
If you have chosen whiskies with different percentages of alcohol, start with the lowest percentage and finish with the strongest whiskey. The alcohol will numb your taste buds a little. Starting with the strongest whisky is a shame for the whiskies you will drink afterwards, you won’t taste the subtle flavors.
4. Share your experiences
Sharing your experiences is what makes tasting so much fun. Therefore, ask everyone to make notes with every whisky you taste: What does the whisky look like? What color is it: gold? Or does it tend to be more mahogany brown? What smells do you recognize when you smell it: flowers, vanilla or smoke? And what do you taste when you take a sip: honey, citrus or caramel perhaps?
Of course you’ll discuss your notes with each other in between. Does everyone smell and taste the same or do opinions differ? Chances are that the more whisky you taste, the more you write down your notes. The conversations could also increase as well…
5. Provide snacks in between tasting
Always make sure you have enough (spring) water during your tasting. This can be used to drip into the whisky when it is a bit too intense, but also to drink between the different whiskies. In addition, it is smart to offer a baguette, which you can use to neutralize the senses between the different tasting rounds. In addition, there are a lot of other snacks that go well with whisky.
Whisky and chocolate, for example, are a delicious combination and preferably dark chocolate. First take a sip of whiskey, then a piece of chocolate and then, while the chocolate melts in your mouth, another sip of whiskey. You will see that the flavors mix and that the second sip of whisky tastes completely different from the first by adding chocolate.
Also cheese and other appetizers go very well with whisky. Just don’t choose snacks that are extremely spicy or contain a lot of garlic, this will not enhance the flavors of the whisky.
This is the last episode of the mini-course ‘Drinking Whisky for Beginners’ featuring The Famous Grouse. We hope you’ve got an inspiring introduction to the wonderful world of whisky and wish you happy and tasty holidays, slàinte! (Cheers in Scottish)