The Nosing of Whisky

Today I would like to share my experiences with you on the subject of nosing whisky. I didn't start by poking my nose in my Tasting Glass trying to detect Wet Violets on a Sunday Morning in a little village south east of Vienna. Instead I started to read about the basic flavors that can be detected on the nose and on the palate when tasting whisky. So I started sniffing and tasting fresh and dried fruits, marmalade, honey, sherry, beer, spices like pepper, cinnamon and crave , lemon and orange zests, coffee, tea , corn syrup, toffee, cake, fresh bread and chocolate. After that I learnt about the different regions of productions and I started to nose flowers, heather, ashes, leather and salt. When I had to go to the port of Santos for my work I even went for a walk around the quays sniffing cables, fish, brine, the sea etc.
Of course It was impossible to remember all these impressions during my first tasting sessions but after some 10 different whiskies including Single Malts, Blends and Bourbons I felt I started making progress. In the meantime I've done over 60 whiskies and I now feel much more comfortable when I start nosing. To get you under way, here are some tips that might help:
The Nosing of whisky takes time. On average I nose the whisky on at least two different days, each time for at least 20 to 30 minutes. This gives the whisky enough time to open up in the glass. In case you only give it a couple of sniffs, the chance is very high that you will only get one or maybe two of the 4 main odours that usually pop up in whisky:

1-  Malt. In the end whiskey is made from malted grains;
2-  Wood and spices from the contact of the spirit with the American Oak Bourbon casks;
3-  Sweet Sherry from the Spanish Sherry Casks;
4-  Smoke and Peat in all whisky from Islay and some other islands as well as some (coastal ) distilleries on the Scottish mainland. But in other whisky producing countries like Ireland and Japan you will also find peated whiskies.

One last important tip: If you stick the whole of your nose in the nosing glass, you will probably just get the wafts of alcohol. Try to nose the rims of the glass and use all angles. You will see or rather smell different flavours in different places.

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