Famous all over the world, the scotch whisky (often called just “scotch” in US) is one of the most famous drinks in the world. But no where in the world is whisky best enjoyed than in its homeland: Scotland.
Whisky tasting is an art, a philosophy of life and Scots are more than willing to share it with the traveler.
Whisky tasting tours and events
Private parties which include whisky tasting can be arranged at The Scotch Whisky Experience, a very popular tourist attraction, located right near Edinburgh Castle. A Standard Tour costs £9.50 per person (adults) and Discounted Tour Entry vouchers can be downloaded from the official website. Tours are available every day except on Christmas Day, from 10 AM to 6 PM from September to May and from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM from June to August.
Whisky Tasting Tours and other related events are also offered by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It’s very important to book well in advance as the events are very popular among tourists and locals alike. The prices and days vary for each tour. More details can be obtained from the official website.
Most hotels also offer packages complete with a whisky tasting experience. Be aware though, these packages tend to be on the pricey side, especially during the high season: about £600 for 2 persons.
How to properly taste whisky
Whisky tasting is done mainly with the nose (unfortunately some would say). The nose is a more accurate organ which can detect up to 32 primary smells (as opposed to 4 primary tastes).
In a clear glass, pour a measure (about an ounce) of whisky. Hold the glass in the light and admire the color, clarity and depth. The appearance is a good indicator how it’s been matured as the color comes from the wood.
Sniff and then take a large sip and roll the whisky over your tongue. Notice the texture and identify the flavors. Notice the aromas and aftertaste, as well as how long the flavor is still present in the mouth.
How to drink scotch whisky
Between two shots of whisky, did you ever stop to think that there might be something more to it than just ordering “whisky on rocks”? Now that you know how to taste whisky it’s time to learn how to properly drink whisky.
Some drink it with coke, some drink it on the rocks and some like to take shots. But the proper way to appreciate whisky is to drink it straight.
Pour the whisky in a wine or sherry glass. You won’t be taking shots so you need a glass to sip from. Just like when you taste the whisky, pour about an ounce and a half of whisky and tilt the glass; watch is as it glides on the glass; hold the glass in the light and look for impurities.
Now you can add bottled spring water (not the tap water as it’s not pure and ruins the taste). Add as much as you want but don’t add more water than whisky. Water has the property of unlocking potential flavors and aromas. Sniff, sip and let it warm in your mouth, then swallow.
Find out more about the world’s finest whisky at WhyGo Scotland’s introduction to Scotch whisky, and make sure you know how to say the names of your favorite brands with our guide to pronouncing Scotch whiskies.
Note: The author believes in drinking responsively