If you’re out to try some new things in the world of fine spirits and alcohol, you’ll want to take on the pleasurable adventure of whiskey tasting. For this hobby, you’re going to need some great whiskey glasses, like the Glencairn glass.
A Little History of the Glencairn Glass
The Glencairn whiskey glass was designed for Glencairn Crystal by Raymond Davison, the company’s managing director. It’s only been around since 2001, but the Glencairn Glass has made its way around the world into the top distilleries and many bars.
The Glencairn whiskey glass was designed specifically for whiskey, to do what glassware has done for wine, champagne, brandy, and other liquors and alcoholic beverages.
But What Exactly is Whiskey?
Before we get started on learning how to properly nose and drink whiskey, we should learn what makes whiskey different from other spirits.
On the obvious side of things, whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage. It’s made from a fermented mash of grains, usually corn, barley, wheat or rye. Often these grains are malted before use in the whiskey distilling process. After whiskey has been distilled, it’s placed into charred white oak barrels and aged.
How Did Whiskey Get Started?
The term “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic phrase meaning “water of life.” Whiskey was originally used for medicinal purposes, both as an exterior antibiotic and an internal anesthetic, but later grew in popularity as a palate pleasing spirit.
Whiskey first began appearing between 1100 and 1300, being distilled by monks in Ireland and Scotland. Often, barley beer was being distilled into this stronger liquor, since wine was a bit hard to come by in those countries at the time.
Of course, whiskey is enjoyed the world over today, and often appreciated in cocktails or as a stand-alone spirit.
Types of Whiskey
The spirit called Scotch is the short name for Scotch Whiskey. This is commonly accepted and understood around the world.
Irish Whiskey is considered to be the “father” of whiskey. To be true Irish Whiskey, it must be distilled in Ireland. Generally this whiskey is made from a corn base or malted barley.
This type of whiskey is strongly linked to the American culture. Kentucky’s mint julep, and a drink called an old fashioned make a strong argument for the use of Bourbon whiskey in tasty cocktails for special events.
Wheat and barley are most commonly used to make the Rye Whiskey. But at least 51 percent of the grain used to make this particular kind of whiskey has to be rye, at least according to American laws. This particular whiskey has a bit of spice and bitterness in the flavor, but is otherwise similar to bourbon in taste.
While people often associate whiskey with Ireland, Scotland, and the United States, more and more countries are gaining their expertise in the craft. Japan, for example, has a twelve year or older option that’s becoming more popular with whiskey drinkers the world over. They’re revealing other, new batches annually, and gaining in popularity quickly.
How to Nose and Drink Whiskey Like a Pro
It’s good to know what you’re drinking. It’s even better to know how to experience that drink in top form. Here are a few quick tips on how to do that.
1. You’ll Want to Identify Fruit Notes
One of the three primary notes to identify and appreciate about whiskey is the fruit notes you can smell and taste. Hold the whiskey glass to your chin, with the brim just touching your lower lip. Inhale the scents of your whiskey and see if you can determine what fruits you can identify. You may notice melon or citrus in American whiskies, or you might sense apricots or peaches in European whiskies.
2. You’ll Want to Identify Grain Notes
The second of the undertones on your whiskey to identify is which grain or grains your whiskey was distilled from. To do this, hold the far rim of the whiskey glass to your nose and breathe in. Can you sense corn, barley, or wheat? Or do you get a general grain sense of a blend of any of the above?
3. You’ll Want to Identify the Sweet Notes
The final type of underlying sensation you’ll want to identify is that of the sweet note. For this nosing step, put your nose into the glass and inhale. You may be able to smell vanilla, honey, maple, or even toffee in your whiskey.
Nose, Sip, and Enjoy
You’re not an expert yet, but you can work your way there through owning the best whiskey glasses available, and doing some whiskey tastings at nearby distilleries. If you’re able to travel, try scheduling some whiskey tastings at world renowned distilleries. Practice your skills at home and impress the neighbors, or just enjoy a malty, sweet spirit while listening to amazing music.