how to enjoy whisky

How to enjoy whisky

By Iain Allan - Glen Moray Brand Ambassador

Glen Moray is a whisky that can be appreciated at any time, whether it’s part of a celebration or just as a quiet dram at home with friends and family. The common thread is that it’s there to be enjoyed.

There are not many rules around how to enjoy whisky, the main thing is that you enjoy it the way you like it but here are some tips to help you appreciate and decode some of the characters within your glass.

When selecting a glass for your whisky, it's not important to pull out your best crystalware. I suggest you select a glass that has a nice tulip shape (something that tapers in at the top) which will help to keep in the aroma as a lot of the beauty of a good whisky is in how it smells.

With a glass of whisky in your hand it is very tempting just to drink it, but if you take a moment and look at the colour of the whisky it can tell you a little about what style it may be. The colour, be it a light gold or a darker copper tone, can sometimes be an indication of the cask that has been used (darker colours could indicate a sherry cask whilst lighter golden tones could indicate a bourbon cask) and the depth of colour may provide a hint as to the age of this whisky with older spirits generally getting deeper in tone with age.

If your whisky is a little bit colder you may want to “cradle” the glass in your hands to warm it up but if it is at room temperature holding the glass at the base or by a stem will allow you to swirl the whisky.

When you swirl the whisky around the glass, it will coat the inside of the glass very lightly. And if you watch it for a moment, the whisky will run down the side of the glass and form what we call 'legs' or 'tears' where the whisky clings for a little longer. The longer it clings, the stronger the whisky is and possibly the older it is as well.

Spending time nosing a whisky is important to appreciate the character. Your olfactory senses are great at finding different aromas and whisky is no different. Hold the glass, swirl the whisky and put your nose gently towards the glass, take a light sniff and take in all of the aromas that are coming out of the glass.  At first you may find all the flavours merging into one but as the whisky breathes and opens up it will begin to reveal new aromas that can sometimes help to trigger memories of other smells.

Most whiskies come with a list of nosing and tasting notes on the packaging to help direct you so don't be afraid to get your nose in there and smell that whisky. Don’t worry if you find something different than the notes suggest because nobody knows what your nose is telling you better than you do. There will be many people who will want to tell you what you should smell, but only you will be able to discern what you can actually smell in the glass.

When you first taste the whisky, you may find the alcohol a little numbing on the palate but don’t worry as you will soon acclimatize to it. If you find it a little too overpowering then consider adding a drop of water but only a teardrop size - just enough to warm the whisky up slightly and to release those aromas/tastes that have been hidden.

Let the whisky roll around your mouth and allow those flavours to wash over you.  Some flavours will be bold and to the front of the whisky, some will take time to coax out and some will linger that little longer so you may still taste them long after the dram is finished- these flavours are referred to as the finish and whiskies can have short, medium or long finishes. 

Prefer your whisky on the rocks?

By adding ice, you chill the whisky and that will close down some of the flavour, this may even help you appreciate other flavours that are allowed to come through when a whisky is cooled.

Tasting whisky, it's not a test, it's not an exam. Whisky is there to be enjoyed. It's an experience. Enjoy it with your friends or your family. Cheers, Iain.