For those new to Whisky Lady in India, many of the notes come from tasting sessions of a small private whisky group based in Mumbai.
For those not familiar with the approach our whisky tasting club takes… here’s a snapshot:
- Meet once a month, same time, same day and week of the month
- Rotate hosts with the host responsible for ‘curating’ the evening
- Taste blind!
Which means only one person (i.e. the whisky contributor/host) knows what is being served. That puts him / her firmly in the ‘driver’s seat’ as far as whisky selection and tasting order.
Over the years, we’ve tended to apply three simple guidelines. They may seem obvious but can also produce surprises too.
Hello peat! (The Whisky Exchange)
Naturally we pay attention to peat levels – it is hard to appreciate an exquisite delicate grain whisky after a peat monster!
However usually, the host also has not tried the whisky before our session so relies on the distiller or bottler tasting notes or others reviews – sometimes the descriptions are a bit misleading.
When 60% seemed like high 40s%! (Whisky Lady)
We may pay attention to alcohol strength – you don’t want to whallop your guests with a bold cask strength whisky at 60+% then follow with a wimpy 40% strength. However when all the whiskies are in the 45 – 55 % range, this is less of a factor.
We’ve also been surprised by some incredibly smooth cask strength whiskies that are highly deceptive in their alcohol level – one time we guessed at most 48% and it turned to be 63.1%!
Whisky age trivia (Scotchfest 2015)
Another way to order whiskies for tasting is by age. Generally, young whiskies with an interesting new make spirit have some character but are still developing whereas there are certain levels of nuance and complexity that really only comes with maturity.
If the young upstart comes after a grand old dame, you may miss appreciating some of what the youngster has to offer. However equally, we’ve had a 25 year old be completely outclassed by a young No Age Statement (NAS) whisky.
So… while these are tips that generally work, half the fun is discovering how in the world of whisky, there are exceptions to every rule!
Additionally, it isn’t one factor alone but a combination that helps make the tasting order decision.
Most important is simply to go on a journey of discovery and explore what works for you!
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