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The Nose, Taste & Finish

The Nose

This is perhaps the most important part of assessing a whiskey. In real terms the taste is simply to confirm what your nose has already told you. It is advisable not to put the nose too far into the glass and inhale too deeply at first, in case of burning from the fumes. Firstly, give the whiskey a swirl to release the aromas then carefully bring it to your nose. The spirit is sniffed so that the aroma (nose) can be examined. We would advise the addition of a small amount of water as this will bring out more of the bouquet of the whiskey. Then take a few sniffs of the whiskey with your mouth open, which will have the effect of opening up the palate and making it easier to detect the aromas

The Taste

The whiskey is tasted, often a little at first, and then in larger Amounts, with the spirit being moved around the tongue. What
do you taste? Again relate what you taste to other experiences: does it bring to mind Christmas pudding and vanilla ice cream? Don’t be shy in vocalising. There is no right or wrong in this and you may well taste something completely different from the person next to you. Encourage your friends to ‘share’. Is the taste multi-layered? Does it change quite rapidly in your mouth? From sweet to smoky perhaps? Next, how does the whiskey feel in your mouth? Is it thin? Or dry? Or oily? This is referred to as mouth-feel. Mouth-feel, like the flavours and aromas, can help you identify the whiskey you are drinking. Do you like what you are experiencing from the whiskey so far? All this information helps you to assess the ‘taste’ of the whiskey. The taste will also tell you how the whiskey is structured. Is there a definite beginning, middle and end to this story? When are different tastes introduced? And does it have a satisfying conclusion?

The Finish

Finally, consider how long the flavour lingers in your mouth after you swallow. This is the ‘finish’, is it a short, medium or long finish? Is it a smooth or dry finish? Does the flavour change, become smokier perhaps?