You don't need the best nose or special taste buds to be a great whisky taster. All you need is a consistent tasting technique to build upon. The following steps will help to enhance your whisky-tasting experience.
Glencairn glasses are ideal, but any conical or tapered neck glasses to focus and funnel the aroma will also work.
Hold your glass over a white background under neutral lighting to observe clarity, intensity of colour, and viscosity.
Colour can provide a clue as to what type of cask and how long the whisky has been matured in. Evaluating colour can be tricky. Bourbon picks up colour quickly because of new charred barrels, so can get fairly dark. Scotch whisky can vary a lot depends on the cask; sherry or red wine barrel give deeper colour than second or third-fill ex Bourbon barrel. Also Scotch, Irish, Canadian and Japanese distilleries are allowed to add colour in the form of "spirit caramel" to give consistency.
Viscosity also known as "tears" or "legs", are the trails of liquid that cling to the glass when you swirl it. Thicker and slow drip legs may indicate a whisky with higher alcohol content and flavour complexity.
Compared with sight and taste, our sense of smell is way more acute. Hold the glass below your nose and sniff gently. Whisky is high in alcohol so avoid stick your nose in the glass or breath in deeply so quickly, it will cause the alcohol to numb your olfactory receptors and you won't taste or smell much for the next ten to fifteen minutes. Move from nostril to nostril, breathing normally. Close your eyes and think of what the smell evokes, any memory it pulls up. Write it down if you're taking notes.
Take a sip slowly. Close your eyes to concentrate on the flavour if needed. Let the whisky flow across your tongue. Hold it on your tongue for as long as it's comfortable, then breath in and swallow. What do you taste? Does it taste the same as it smelled? Is it sweet, hot, bitter, smooth, or oily? Now take another sip. Work it a bit more this time by getting the whisky throughout your entire mouth cavity. Slow chewing motions work well.
Notice how long you can continue to taste or feel the whisky. Does it leave your mouth feels dry, oily, or meaty? Note down any lingering aftertaste.
There you go. Hope you find this blog helpful. Happy tasting!