How to Have a Whiskey Tasting
Everyone knows about wine tasting parties, but if you want to host a night that will set you apart from the rest, it’s time to bring out the big guns, and host a whiskey tasting. So just buy some whiskies and get your friends over right? Not quite. You know that there’s more to whisky than slamming it back straight or doubling it down with a well known cola, and soon your friends will too, if you make the right preparations.
Whiskey: Firstly, it would be easy to get carried away and want to include all 50 of your favorite whiskies, however it’s worth focusing on a particular theme so that you can provide clearer points for comparison. Single malts are a good starting point for beginners, and about 6 – 8 should provide a good selection, allowing for 15 minutes for each one over a two hour period.
Glasses: Having the right glasses and sufficient space to place them will be key your guests enjoying the experience. You’ll need a separate glass for each whisky, and these should be clear, tulip shaped tasting glasses which will help capture the aroma of each whisky. It’s worth hiring these from a catering equipment company to save you the hassle of washing them in between, and then you can have all your whiskies out ready for the guests arrival. You’ll need a biggish table to place all the glasses on, and any other bits and pieces needed. It can be a nice touch to provide notepads so your guests can scribble notes and compare as they taste.
Food: In order to make sure that your guests make it through the tasting without getting drunk, you should make it clear that they shouldn’t come on an empty stomach, although they also shouldn’t have eaten too much! Consider providing some snacks, but spicy foods and any strong garlicky foods should be avoided as they can overpower the palate. Stick to plainish things like crackers, which are also good for palate cleansing in between glasses.
Water: Water is an important element that cannot be ignored. Room temperature spring water needs to be provided, as a good mouthful should be drunk between whiskies. Guests may also want to add water to explore how that changes the profile of the drink. Choose a bottled water without minerals so it doesn’t color the flavor.
Entertaining: Lastly, remember to have fun! Adding a mystery element into the evening will help to inspire conversation and make it more enjoyable. Blind tastings, where no one knows exactly which whiskey they are drinking, are a good way to combat any preconceived notions about each whisky. You can organize the glasses by using tasting pads, which have space for each numbered glass to be placed on, along with a handy list of flavors for easy reference when taking notes. Listen how people who only 20 minutes ago knew absolutely nothing about whiskey talk of “notes of leather, with coffee highlights” like they have been quaffing single malts for years.
That’s a whiskey tasting success!