Whiskey Tour Etiquette: 6 Tips for Tasting on Your Tour

Did you know the United States produces 37 million cases of whiskey a year?

If you're a whiskey lover, you're probably not surprised by the high number. Although some people love whiskey, they have rarely tasted it in its full glory.

If you're ready to go on a whiskey tour and want to know the proper way to taste it, this article is for you. Read on for a step by step guide on how you can savor every sip.

1. The Color of the Whiskey

While on a whiskey tasting tour, one of the first things you will notice is the color of the whiskey. If you don't want to be the person who asks why the whiskey is a certain color, we have a few tips. 

Dark and light whiskeys have slightly different flavors. From a dark whiskey, you can expect a more mature taste. The older the whiskey is, the darker the color will be and the more intense the tasting experience. 

However, this doesn't mean light colored whiskey doesn't taste just as well. Lighter whiskey simply has a different type of flavor. From a lighter whiskey, you can expect a sweeter whiskey taste. 

The type of cask also influences the color of the whiskey. For example, American white oak casks give the whiskey a reddish color. On the other hand, European oak casks give the whiskey a yellow coloring. 

For the production of bourbon, distillers only use virgin oak. However, to produce Scotch whiskey, distillers use the cask several times. 

While on your tour, you can ask what type of cask they used on the production of the whiskey. 

2. Take a Sip and Repeat

Unlike the wine tasting process, which involves taking a sip, swirling, and sucking a little bit of air through your lips, the whiskey tasting process is different. 

With whiskey, what you need to do is take a sip and hold it in your mouth long enough for you to engage your taste buds and then swallow it. Repeat the process over again. 

3. The Glassware Can Enhance Your Tasting Experience

Believe it or not, the right whiskey glass can help enhance the flavor of the whiskey.  Depending on the type of tour, you will encounter different types of whiskey glasses. 

When you go on a whiskey tour, you will probably experience a real whiskey glass. 

The copita or tulip-shaped glass is a traditional Spanish glass. This glass has a long stem and prevents your hand from coming in contact with your nose, so you don't smell anything other than the whiskey. Since the bowl is narrowed slightly, it helps concentrate the aromas of the whiskey. 

The Glencairn has a more robust bowl compared to the copita glass, however, the base is shorter and more solid. This glass is perfect for those who want to practice how to swirl the whiskey. 

The Whiskey Tumbler is worth mentioning even if you don't see it during a whiskey tasting tour. This glass is perfect if you want to enjoy your whiskey on the rocks. 

4. Engage Your Nose

Since whiskey has a higher alcohol content, than wine, for example, you don't want to take a big sniff. 

The correct way to engage your nose is by swirling the whiskey around carefully and taking a whiff of the scent at the top of the glass. 

As you swirl and sniff, this is the perfect time to observe the color of the whiskey. You will be able to make the connection between the color and the scent. 

Make sure you don't try too hard to identify only one scent. Remember that our olfactory system tends to be nostalgic, so you might pick up different smells than the person next to you. 

Try not to let what others smell influence the aroma you get from the whiskey. If you think you're picking up different smells, don't be afraid to take another whiff. 

You will notice each time you take a whiff, the smell will transform slightly.

5. The Taste

After you've taken enough whiffs to get the scent of the whiskey, it's time you taste it. 

Start by taking a small sip of whiskey as you pucker your lips in an 'o' shape. Next, you need to move your tongue to your lips as you suck in some air. This process is pretty much gargling the whiskey.

Don't be surprised if you gag the first few times you taste the whiskey. This is a measure of how strong the whiskey is, and it doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. 

Once you get used to the strength of the whiskey, take turns between rolling it around your mouth and gargling it. 

Instead of trying to pick up a particular taste, make sure you take in every taste. After tasting it a few times, you will pick up on a variety of flavors. 

Make sure you look out for the finish, which is the burning feeling.

6. The Splash of Water

Adding water to the whiskey is a bit of a controversy among whiskey aficionados. However, by adding a little bit of water, you will open up a variety of new flavors.

Once you have tasted your whiskey and gotten used to the flavor, it's time you add a few drops of water. You will notice by adding just a bit more water, you will open up your palate to new flavors and aromas, like peeling off the layer of an onion.

You don't need to add a lot of water, or else you could ruin the whiskey. Simply add a few drops and repeat the same process from above.

7. Practice Before the Tour

Since we covered a lot of information, it's not a bad idea to practice tasting whiskey before your tour. 

You could do it at home with a bottle of your favorite whiskey or go to a local bar and try their selection. 

Go On a Whiskey Tour Like a Pro

Now that you know these expert whiskey tour tips, you will be able to blend in with the experts. 

Remember to pay attention to the color, nose your whiskey, and taste every flavor.

Are you ready to put your skills to the test? Contact us to book one of the best Tennessee whiskey tours around.

Posted on Jul 15 2019

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