The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.
The term "whisky tasting", while accurate, we feel isn't complete in its meaning. That's because the tasting aspect is just one part in a full sensory whisky experience. So with that in mind, so to speak, here's what to look for, again so to speak, in your recently poured whisky journey.
Listen: as you pour yourself a dram. The whisky leaving the bottle... eagerly making its way into to your glass. You are preparing for a new whisky adventure. An exploration into unchartered whisky territory. A little over the top? Ok, maybe. Here's how we see this part: Imagine you're in a movie theatre and the lights dim. You know the movie is about to start when you see the introduction on the big screen. It's letting you know your movie adventure is about to start. The sound of the whisky being poured is letting you know your whisky adventure is about to start.
Look: at the whisky in your glass. More to the point, the colour: is it clear, hay yellow, golden, copper, mahogany (or whatever colour descriptor you prefer). The colour can start telling you a bit about the whisky's story - the barrel(s) it came from. It's a little more complex than what we're getting into here and we'll save those whisky geek details for another post. What the colour is doing is readying your palate for the all those flavourful notes and scents that will soon be coming your way.
Smell: the whisky in your glass. From a distance at first and then proceed to stick your nose in its business. Whisky loves that. Now, before we go any further, here's a shout out to your olfactory epithelium - a teeny bit of tissue inside your nasal cavity - home to literally millions of neurons. Why the shout out? Because this little bit of you is responsible for 80 percent of the flavour of everything we taste. Yep - it does a lot of heavy lifting, or rather, sniffing. With it, we can detect thousands of different scents. And since whisky can have at least a hundred scents, your olfactory epithelium will get a great workout.
Taste: the whisky in your glass. Yes, this is a "well, duh," part of the exploration but look at how many (fun) steps it took us to get here. Some scientists say we can taste 5 basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (savory). Others say 6: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Which ever taste camp you want to plunk your tongue in, either way, your tongue will let you know what you taste. Oh, and a little whisky geek: smell and taste are directly related because they both use the same types of receptors.
Feel: the whisky. (Feel the whisky?) Damn straight you will: on the tongue and on the throat. How does the whisky coat your tongue? How does your tongue feel after you let the whisky sit on it for a few seconds? How long does the finish linger in your throat? Hey, why should your fingertips hog all the "feel this" part of life?
So the next time you want to enjoy a dram, get all your senses working together to get more out of your whisky experience. After all, appreciating whisky only makes scents.