While our original tasting group has perfected the art of hosting whisky tasting sessions, my new group of fabulous women are mostly new to hosting structured tasting sessions.
So with our whisky ladies in mind, I put together a ‘how to’ for hosting with flair and panache!
- Capacity – Start with how many people can comfortable sit around a circle to discuss, debate, swish, swill, swallow and kibbitz together… if you have too many split around the room, that’s more of a party than tasting. Yet too few and you miss out on the fun of different impressions and reactions.
- Diversity – The best whisky tasting group has a range of palates and perspectives. How boring would it be to all pontificate in unison?
- Scents – If you have novice whisky samplers coming, it is advisable to let them know any strong perfumes are a ‘no no’ as it interferes with the whisky aromas. Ditto for you as a host – including those gorgeous flowers or spicy cooking smells.
Contributions – Decide how the whiskies will be selected and in which order. Personally, I prefer no more than 3 samples per evening. I also prefer to have a theme behind the sampling journey.
- Glasses – I have a distinct preference for either Glencairn or tulip glasses. We’ve tried other options and they just don’t work as well. If possible, it is ideal to have one glass per whisky per person. If not, then just rinse between whiskies.
- Presentation – Do you wish to taste blind, then reveal the whisky? Display each whisky openly, sharing stories as you sample? Either works!
- Palate cleansers – During the tasting, should only have cucumber or bread sticks / crackers with minimal salt and no other flavours to influence. Best are simple oat cakes, but not everyone goes to the effort of making or finds them easy to acquire.
- Water – Everyone should have their own water glass to liberally consume – particularly between whiskies. There should also be water jars to refill, rinse glasses, etc. Plus it is ideal to have a couple pipettes or droppers to control adding just 2-3 drops of water to a whisky.
- Spittoon – Whether you follow the ‘spit the 1st sip‘ adage or not, it is still good to have a bowl to dump excess whisky and water from rinsing glasses, etc.
- Food – The best approach is guests come after having already lined their tummy before tasting – a soup with bread is a great base. However if that isn’t possible, it is good to greet with something light, no strong flavours, just to coat the belly and get the taste buds revved up for the whisky goodies to come! Post tasting, if not dispersing immediately, feel free to get creative, playing around with foods you think will pair well with whiskies! Just refer back to #3 on scents – ideal is to time your food order to arrive when you expect to finish tasting.
Anyone else have simple tips for organising a whisky tasting evening?
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