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How to really savour the whiskey

How to really savour the whiskey

Believe it or not, the sensation of flavour is a combination of smell and taste. For complex flavors, like those found in many alcoholic beverages, the sense of smell is even more important.

So when it comes to savouring premium scotch whiskey like the Glenmorangie, remember that drinking this elixir is a very personal experience. Everyone’s palate and life experience is different. Everyone will experience the whiskey journey in different ways with varying highs and lows – the pleasure is often a unique situation free from many of the strict rules governing other areas of our lives. The bottom line is: whatever you taste, see or smell you can’t be wrong.

So before you take any sip of the Glenmorangie scotch whiskey, you want to really get your nose in the glass and take a hearty whiff. Allow your drink to settle a bit and then move your glass under your nose several times, breathing in as you do. You don’t want to anesthetize your olfactory nerves. Smell it gently, with your mouth slightly open if you prefer

That first sniff will largely be just alcoholic, and might clear your nostrils a little bit. So give it a second and third sniff and you’ll get some of the true scotch whiskey flavours. Maybe you can try the “drive-by nosing,” in which you draw the glass horizontally across your nostrils. 

Another method is the “round-the-clock” method, where you gently rotate the glass in a circle around the nose. Some said you can sense the scent change at 12, 3, 6 and 9-o’clock. You may be tempted to swirl your scotch (like wines), but resist the temptation! Swirling releases alcohol, which may overwhelm the true taste and aroma of the scotch whiskey.

The key to drinking scotch whiskey is to always ensure you’re doing it differently than how you’d consume beer or wine, especially when drinking neat. Sip a small volume, very small, and let the flavours be experienced with the least amount of alcohol possible. Give your palate a chance to adjust to the alcohol levels, then take another sip to really taste the whiskey. After a very small sip initially to allow the mouth to adjust, take a regular taste – but hold it in your mouth. Allow the liquid to come into contact with every part of the mouth.

What many forget is that tasting the Glenmorangie scotch whiskey is often about the aftertaste, or the “finish.” After you swallow or spit the whiskey, the flavour should linger on your palate, evolve and then fade away. 

There are some techniques to maximise the intensity or length of the finish. The most famous of these is “The Kentucky Chew,” attributed to the late Booker Noe, and popularised by Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe.

The technique is to roll the scotch whiskey around in the mouth and “chew” on it, which allows the spirit to reach all the surfaces of the mouth, which pick up different flavours. It’s fun, but can be kind of noisy in a really quiet environment, so take note!

To freshen your palate in between sips, it’s a good idea to have some very soft, neutral water at room temperature to rekindle the savouring. It is preferable to avoid water from plastic bottles and other potentially strong flavors or odours as this will directly affect your whiskey experience. 

Also, it’s rare for anyone to consume scotch whiskey alone or stop at just one serving. So, you should avoid consuming any food or drink with strong tastes that would be likely to alter it (for example coffee, liquorice, mint, etc.) Don’t overpower the whiskey, pair your scotch with bold-flavoured foods such as smoked salmon, bold cheeses (such as blue or aged cheddar).

Overall, it should be noted that the olfactory perception of a drink is inevitably a personal thing as the pH and release of the volatile compounds on the palate of each taster will vary. 

You can enjoy your whiskey/whisky anyway you choose. Some will prefer it in a mixed drink while others prefer it neat (straight with no ice or water). Others will insist on water or ice (even down to the shape of the ice) or even “whiskey rocks”. 

Regardless of your choices, one word to remember is the word “savour”. It is a verb meaning to appreciate or enjoy completely with strict attention.


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