Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to taste whisky?

I recently wanted to write a review about the whisky I am enjoying at the moment. So I consciously sat down and thought about it carefully and realised that I have now idea where to begin. How do I describe a whisky, smoky, peaty or toffee? What do these terms really mean? When should they be used? How do you describe the colour? Surely every whiskies colour isn't caramel? It then dawned on me that the first meeting would be terrible if members didn't understand what we are looking for when tasting whisky? Surely everyone needs this information?

After many internet searches I discovered the Introduction to the Nosing and Tasting Course at Whisky Magazine. This is a brief five part lesson on how to nose and taste whisky. My hope is that this course will assist members to write insightful reviews and most importantly, allow the language of whisky to flourish at our inaugural meeting.

The lessons links are below [thanks to Whisky Magazine]:

In part 3, the Whisky Wheel is introduced and I have added the large wheel above for people to print and study. I would encourage all members to print and read this course, especially the wheel above. Furthermore, I ask any members with further tasting insights to provide links in the comments field below.



  1. Brackish, Cabbage Water, Turnips, Stagnant, Marsh Gas? Chaff-like, Dried Hops, Mousey, Pot, Ale, Iron Tonic? I am looking at this wheel and thinking I need an appreciation all things LSD first. I am the Walrus.

  2. I went to a course on wine tasting and 'wet animal' was a tasting must unlearn what you have learned.

    I am the goo ga joob!

  3. Wet animal? Damn I can relate to that at the moment. Our dogs + the rain. Maybe I need to go squeeze some essence of dog as a tasting for the first DTWC.

  4. Love the wheel. At least I can come up with more than just smoky and peaty too. Although if I can taste shellfish, should I be worried!!

  5. Considering you cannot taste shellfish because your throat will swell up and you will die is probably one of those choices not worth memorising. Though if it does happen we all get a 20% cut of your share... I say stick with the apparent 'Cattle and Cake' flavour will will all enjoy at some stage.

    I can still remember that Simpsons episode where they have dogs swimming in the vat of beer "needs more dog".

  6. Men,
    I'd like to remind all that we are part of a historic fellowship. A fine Scotch whisky appreciation society which aims at scholarship and erudition. A noble fraternity of brothers. Such relationships though, come with certain inherent responsibilities for maintaining the good reputation of the Order and the high standards for which it is renowned.

    Given these considerations, I'd like to propose that any member of the society who brings Whisky to a meeting that can be described as - Cabbage Water, Marsh Gas, Bog Myrtle, Old Gym Shoes, Lint or Digestive Biscuits (all of which can be found on the whisky wheel) face a disciplinary hearing followed by immediate expulsion* from the brotherhood unless he can provide a suitable excuse.


    * Personally I'm more inclined towards quick Courts Martial followed by execution but this seems a bit extreme.

  7. Fantastic!
    I live in Perth (the one in Australia) and whisky drinkers are in the minority here!
    So finding a novice's "do it yourself" tasting course is great :)

  8. Thanks for the comment rameog, glad you enjoyed the post. As you can probably tell some of us here at D.T.W.C. are more novice than others. Please let us know if you see anything that might be interesting to other whisky drinkers out there.

  9. What do you guys think about Whiskey Stones?
    There are some for sale on e bay at the moment... cools without diluting...

  10. A review was up recently. The stones have certainly penetrated into the club. Check it here: