How to nose a whisky

Ahhh, nothing better than nosing a good whisky right? Most people are unsure of what is the right way to do this and whether they are picking out the right notes or not. Don’t worry, everyone’s senses are different and individual to them, so there is no right or wrong answer. Whether you are just a newbie, an occasional whisky drinker, or a connoisseur, we will have a look at how to nose a whisky the right way.

First things first – start off with a blank canvas. As humans we can get easily manipulated, so in this case, reading tasting notes beforehand that describe the whisky will make it difficult to think of our own nose notes. So, the first tip would be to stay away from this and to make it personal to you! 

Choosing your glass

The next important step is to choose the correct glass that helps to enhance the aroma of the whisky.

A Glencairn whisky glass is a perfect start, its wide bowl and narrow rim means the aromas and flavors of the whisky are accurately delivered to the nose and palate or you can go one better with a Copita Glass a true connoisseur’s way for nosing your whisky. Both products are part of our merchandise range and are available on our website to purchase.

Once you have chosen your preferred glass, pour your dram and let it sit for a few seconds. Then with the glass in your hand swirl the whisky around slowly ensuring the whisky stays high up in the glass. Then take a look at the tear drops developing on the inside of the glass. If they are long and slow then this is a good way to tell that the whisky will be high in alcohol strength and could be cask strength. In most instances the slower the drop, the better the liquid.

Peg Whisky Glencairn Glass Peg Whisky Copita Glass

Nosing the whisky

Now the important part, nosing the whisky. Don’t put your nose straight into the glass, as your natural senses will be subdued by the high alcohol content. Raise the glass roughly to your bottom lip and breathe into your mouth first, then breathe out slowly through your nose. This will calmly introduce the fragrances of the whisky and not the overbearing alcohol content.

Start to think of what the aromas remind you of, could it be fresh baked bread, oranges, wood, whatever your senses are telling you is based on what experiences you’ve had over your lifetime. Again, there are no right or wrong answers here even if your notes are not the same as what the whisky has been described as, remember everyone’s nose if different and unless you’re the great Richard Patterson, also known as ‘the nose’ you probably won’t get all the flavors the first time.

Take your time, there is no rush when nosing whisky, the more time you have, the more it helps you identify new scents each time. Compare your notes with others and share experiences. 

There you have it, ‘practice makes perfect’ and in no time you‘ll become an expert when it comes to nosing whisky.

Peg Whisky Blended Scotch Whisky

Slàinte Mhaith


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