Sampling scotch is about more than just tasting it. After all, you don’t just taste with your tongue. You taste with your eyes and your nose – an attractive-looking drink or plate of food, combined with a pleasant smell, can have you salivating long before you even bring it to your lips. To properly taste and appreciate scotch, you need to use all your senses.
First, once the scotch is poured, examine its colour. Is it pale gold? Dark amber? Different scotches have different colouring and you’ll have to try a few different ones to know which you like best.
Next, tilt and rotate the glass so that the scotch coats the inner sides of the glass. Pay attention to how the liquid returns to the bowl of the glass. Is it quick and thin (denoting a light body)? Or heavy and slow (denoting a heavy body)? Again, you’ll have to sample a few different types to see what appeal to you the most.
After you’ve looked at the scotch, smell it. Bring the glass to your nose and inhale. What do you smell? Is it smoky? Earthy? Are there hints of fruit or chocolate or pepper?
Finally, after you’ve used your eyes and your nose, use your mouth. Drink a small amount and hold it there in your mouth. Roll the liquid around with your tongue, keeping the tip of your tongue touching the back of your teeth. Slowly and deeply inhale before swallowing. The taste might be light, sweet, rich, fruity or spicy. What flavours can you taste?
Lastly, after you’ve swallowed, note how long the taste lingers in your mouth and whether it leaves a pleasant aftertaste.
You might also want to consider adding water to scotch before you taste it. While a splash of water may dilute your drink, it also opens up the whiskey and allows for more subtle flavours to be experienced.
The Lake Simcoe Arms is a traditional British pub featuring a menu of single malt scotch whiskies. Visit www.lakesimcoearms.com for more information.