They say this is a man’s world, and if that’s right, you’re going to need to know something about drinking. Where I’m from, men drink whiskey right out of the bottle. However, you don’t have to do it that way. When it comes to whiskey, there are many brands available from Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Bombay, Cutty Sark, and Dewars plus a lot more. To hang with the best whiskey connoisseurs, you’re going to need some whiskey tasting etiquette tips.

The first thing you should know about whiskey tasting is you are not supposed to gulp it like a coca-cola. That will get you into trouble real fast. Hold on to your hat, now… we’re going to tell you how it’s done. We’ve discovered there’s a method to the madness and well, you gotta follow the whiskey tasting etiquette. Yep, there is such a thing, so keep reading to find out what it is.

Tips to Remember Before Whiskey Tasting

There are two things to remember before tasting whiskey.

  1. First, whiskey tasting involves not only your tongue but also your mouth, nose, throat and even eyes. It is to be tasted with all the senses at the same time.
  2. Second, you are not to rush it. Although you don’t get much in those sniffers, you’d still better be careful.

Whiskey Tasting Etiquette

Whiskey is definitely not tasteless water. Whiskeys come in a variety of flavors and combinations. One has to try as many as possible before selecting one as his or her favorite. Whiskey tasting is not as complicated as it seems. Here are 5 tips which helped me at whiskey tasting events.

5Slow Down

Whiskey tasting is nothing to rush into. Better not go for whiskey tasting when you have something very important waiting to be done. You need to practice the art of slow whiskey drinking. Experienced whiskey tasters spend more than 15 minutes before even taking the first sip of their drink. So, there aren’t any time limits to finish off your drink, you can take your own sweet time.

4Choose the Right Glass

Photo by Yutacar

Whiskey tasting is best when using a sniffer. Its wide base makes it easier to swirl the drink around in the glass.

The narrow mouth makes it easier to sniff the drink and enjoy its aroma. You can use a wine glass if you don’t have a sniffer.

3Sniff Your Drink

The first part of whiskey tasting is to experience its aroma and guess the ingredients. This is best done before you taste the drink so there is still suspense in it.

Probably the first few times you sniff your drink, you will get the taste of alcohol. But give the drink some time to reveal its true smell. Whiskey is generally trapped in bottles for years or even decades and it takes time for the air around you to break down the molecules and get the smell out.

So, swirl your drink and sniff till you can get the smell of the ingredients and the spiciness.

2Tasting Your Drink

Whiskey Tasting Etiquette photo by Gabriel Gurrola

After relishing in the aroma of your drink, take a small sip of it. For you beginners, it’s quite natural to have those burning sensations in your mouth after taking a shot of whiskey, but later, the burn becomes one of the pleasures of drinking whiskey. No, I’m not kidding… it’s right there in the whiskey tasting guide.

You can swish it around in your mouth and experience the taste in various parts of your mouth. Take time to enjoy the taste it has to offer before swallowing. Once you swallow it, there will probably be a burning sensation and you may even chock, but you’re going to be okay. You and your throat will be okay.

Don’t worry, you will get accustomed to that also. After you swallow the whiskey, there will be an aftertaste and you may still feel a slight sensation from the drink on your tongue and throat. This is called the finish.

Keep a notepad and pen handy and make sure you jot down the flavors you get and notate if the drink was pleasant, burning, or itchy. Refer back to your whiskey tasting notes to find out which was the best overall.

Did You Know?

Different parts of tongue taste different tastes and sensations? Spread your mojito if you chose that drink all over your mouth to get that wholesome taste of the drink.

1To Add or Not to Add Ice and Water

This is one of the biggest questions beginners (also experienced) ask. It is entirely your wish. Some people like it with water and or ice and some don’t.

Before thinking of adding anything, first taste the raw whiskey and add anything you feel appropriate. Adding a few drops of water may help release some alcohol which enhances the taste, but make sure you don’t end up adding more water than the drink itself.

Some people like adding ice. Make sure the ice doesn’t numb your tongue, leaving you unable to experience the taste for a while. That’s another sure way to land you on the floor on better yet, asleep in the truck in front of the whiskey tasting club. You won’t know you’re out until you wake up and discover your pic went viral.

Last Call for Alcohol

These were 5 super easy tips to remember about whiskey tasting, but I want to leave you with one very important tip… well, two tips. When you make it home, turn down the air conditioner to the lowest setting that doesn’t actually freeze you out and take a nap. The cold air will have you refreshed the next day. It’s virtually a no-hangover trick I picked up on while I learned whiskey tasting etiquette.

The second tip IS TO NEVER EVER DRIVE DRUNK… don’t even drive buzzed. That’s the responsible thing to do. Before you leave the pub, drink plenty of water. There’s no shame in using a DD (designated driver) either or calling a friend or taxi home. It’s better than riding in the back seat of a policeman’s car any day or not being able to drive again. 

If you ask me what’s the best way to drink whiskey, I’d say at home. The Gentleman’s Gazette has some awesome ideas to help you throw the bash right. Yep… right in the comfort of your own home providing, you are the legal drinking age. Try hosting a whiskey tasting party at your house. I bet you and your friends would have a lot of fun. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this whiskey tasting etiquette.