Several people whom I have asked what the right way to taste a scotch, different people have different ways, perceptions and taste recognitions, the right way is often different from what we generally follow.
While most of us prefer to have Scotch or Whisky with ice (AKA on the rocks), cold water, soda, the right method follows a much more mellowed and sensible approach. It involves caressing the smell, rolling the liquid and much more like detailed below.
No matter what Scotch you’re drinking, there’s definitely a best way to taste. The four things to look for are color, nose, palate, and finish. Don’t just pick up your glass and look at it to get the color, but hold it up to natural sunlight. While many people drink single-malt Scotch from a typical whisky glass, the proper glass to "nose" with is in fact a sherry copita, which resembles a tulip. It is perhaps not the most masculine shape for such a masculine spirit, but practical and effective. With your mouth open so that you can breathe non-boozy air while you sniff, take a long pull of the Scotch and see what flavors you smell.
Adding water opens up the flavors and cuts down on the alcohol burn. The master distillers we’ve met always use a splash of quality-bottled water and sometimes even ice so that they can taste the different phases of the Scotch as the ice melts.
Some experts even claim that a sip of strong coffee or bite of dark chocolate helps in the appreciation process. We say, why not?
The palate is how it feels and tastes when you take your first sip, and the aftertaste and finish are the flavors you get afterward. No matter what, take your time.
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