July 22nd, 2012 by Tom
One of the beauties of classic single malt whiskies is that they must be approached with a certain respect and dignity to be properly enjoyed. Preparation, presentation and performance are all integral stages in the process, each building on the other to create a smooth finish that rubs away even your roughest edges.
Choosing the Glass:
A rounded glass is always preferable with fine single malt whiskies, the straight sided tumbler does not allow the bouquet to build like the tulip shape that is commonly used for wines, sherries or cognacs. Stemmed glassware is preferable so your hand will naturally wrap around the body of the glass and gently warm the contents as you sip. The larger the glass, the more poignant the aroma, so sensitive noses should stick to smaller glasses. Never fill over one-third full, it’s crucial to leave plenty of room for the vapours to accumulate in the top of the glass.
Nosing the Glass
To properly appreciate the taste of a well-crafted single malt whisky, one must first appreciate it’s bouquet. Ideally, there are three stages to this process. The first sniff is just over the rim of the glass once it has sat a moment after being served to distinguish the basic ambiance. Do not waltz the liquid yet, just let the aromas build inside the glass as the whisky “breathes” and adjusts to being set free. After it has sat a while longer take the next whiff and move your nose further into the glass and detect the different layers of odours that have been unleashed. Finally, waltz the single malt gently, passing it under your nose to savor the alchemy that results when the contents are agitated.
Although technically the human tongue only has four taste receptors, together they create the “umami,” a Japanese term for delicious. The best way to create this sensation is to allow the whisky to linger in your mouth and activate all of the taste sensations at once, culminating in an explosion of flavours. The vapours will also mingle with the scents you detected earlier in your nosing procedure, making the entire single malt experience all the more vivid.
1. Flickr: Tienviiftien
2. Malt Madness
3. The Examiner
4. LiveStreet.com (Wall Street Journal)