Traditional Irish Pub
STEP 1 ENJOY
Pour yourself a small measure of whisky. A glass that is narrower at the top than the bottom is best. Hold it by the stem so as not to warm the glafss. Have a bottle of un-chilled water to hand.
STEP 2 CHECK THE COLOUR
Hold the glass up to the light. Colour doesn't necessarily reveal age; rather it indicates how the whiskey was matured. Depending on the particular whisky, the maturation could have been in casks that once held anything from Bordeaux to Bourbon. A golden-hued single malt was likely matured in sherry oak; a very pale whisky may indicate bourbon casks have been used. But wait a wee while before pronouncing judgement.
STEP 3 LOOK AT THE LEGS
Hold the glass at an angle and rotate it briskly, washing the inside walls of the glass with whisky. Now hold it upright and watch the liquid forming the 'legs' as it runs down the sides of the glass. Over time, single malts give up their lightest spirits to the 'angel's share' (evaporation, in other words). So the slower the legs, the more viscous the liquid - and the older the whisky. If you can get hold of two or three bottles of varying ages, you'll see what we mean
STEP 4 SMELL THE NOSE
Hold your glass at arm's length then pass it smoothly under your nose, breathing in deeply through the nose as you do. Think. Imagine. What do those smells remind you of? Try to remember that 'signature'. Now pass the glass back under your nose and repeat the process.
STEP 5 TASTE THE SPIRIT
Form your tongue into a small spoon shape in your mouth. Sip from the glass, letting the whiskey nestle on your tongue. Try and articulate aromas and flavours you experience - remembering that they're complex and constantly changing.
STEP 6 ADD A LITTLE FRESH WATER
Don't drown it. Just a few drops should be enough. Swirl the glass - you'll find the resulting mixture surprisingly mellow and drinkable. But rather than gulp, take a small mouthful along with some air. Note all the different aromatics and subtleties, the universe distilled into a drop of whiskey.
STEP 7 ENJOY
Remember, there are no 'right' or 'wrong' articulations of the aromas and tastes you experience. So sit back and enjoy the sensations. And then maybe pour yourself a wee drop more.