How to Host a Tasting Night Advice Requested
I've been slowly building a nice library of Whiskies over he last 12-18 months, buying a new bottle every few weeks, and having a taste with my best mate and dinner over Friday night pizza (homemade) and whatever sport happens to be on tv.
We'd like to hold a proper tasting night, but I'm not sure which of our ollection to use (research I've done suggest no more than 6-7), nor the order of tasting which is from what I've researched is important, and other details. So i was hoping for some advice.
The library currently consists of the following:
Jim Beam White
Jim Beam Small Batch
Jim beam Devils Cut
Blantons Single Barrel 46.5%
Monkey Shoulder Batc 27 Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Glenmorangie The Quinta Ruban Extra Matured in Port Casks 12 yrs
The Glenlivet Single match 15yrs
Glenfiddich Single Malt 12yrs
Bookers Bourbon 127.9 Proof
The Glenlivet Single Malt The Master Distillers Reserve
Chivas Regal 21yr Royal Salute
I also have a set of 'minis' of Jamesons
12yr Special Reserve
Gold Reserve (doesn't state the age and I've not been able to find out how old it is)
18yr old Limited Reserve.
So what would you recommend from that selection for a tasting involving mostly novices. My mate and I enjoy a good whisky, but I'd still call us novices as we merely know what we do and don't like, rather then know theproper terminology.
I've read that dark chocolate is good for having between whiskies as well, as a palate cleanser, but I've also read that some fruits such as paw paw, rockmelon can be good as they're more refreshing.
I've also read that for proper tastings, stemmed glasses with curved walls, like a wine bulb, like a Glencairn, is best. Also that it's best to try undistilled, distilled, and then left for a while to allow the whisky to aerate.
Any suggestions recommendations etc would be muchly appreciated.
As most of the whiskies you have are large productions from major brands, and having perused your list, I have a couple ideas.
First, pair like things and try and find differences. For example, do a night with all the Beam whiskies, or all the blended Scotch, or all the single malts, or all the Irish whiskies...
Second, take those like whiskies and add something totally unique. The smallest production whisky you have is Tobermory, but it is an official bottling from the distillery. The idea is to get into the smaller brands because I think you'll generally find more interesting whisky and better quality than the monster brands.
So, for the Beam stuff, either extend the line with Knob Creek or Baker's or add some small brand like Pure Kentucky XO, Willett Family Pot Still Reserve Bourbon, Smooth Rambler Old Scout, Kinnickinnic...
For the blended Scotch, source one of the major malt components for the blend. For Pinch that'd be a malt from Glenkinchie or Linkwood (Linkwood less available as a single so that'd be the best one to find for its uniqueness). For Chivas find Strathisla. Monkey Shoulder is a blend of Kininvie, Balvenie and Glenfiddich. All three distilleries are on the Glenfiddich property in Dufftown. Kininvie has never released a single, to my knowledge, and Balvenie and Glenfiddich are readily available and not at all rare.
For the Irish you have, definitely get off the Jameson kick. Try the single malts from either Bushmills, Michael Collins or Knappogue Castle. Redbreast pure pot still would be another very interesting whisky to try. Anyway, you'll definitely be improving on the quality of what Irish you have by leaps and bounds.
By the way...
For your tasting, I like to have two glasses for each whisky. This way you can have each one neat and each one with a couple drops of water. You'll often get different things out of each one this way. Of course, the huge brands and bottlings won't generally show much of a difference.
I'm a proponent of The Glencairn Glass.
I don't do food during the serious side of the tasting, unless it's a tasting of more than 12-15 whiskies - and then I only serve something bland like a Carr's water cracker. You don't want the food to cloud your impressions.
Once the serious side of evaluation is out of the way and the drinking begins, bring out the food. Cheeses, fruits, grilled meats, breads, chocolate, fruitcake, shortbread, sausages, fruit pies all go great with many different whiskies.
Thanks for the feedback Dale. I was strictly a Beam drinker for a long time, but have started expanding my range. The Jameson's came in a three-pack from Duty Free as my wife and I were waiting to leave on our honeymoon, and are only 200ml tasters.
Would it be prudent to do a tasting night with one each from each of Lowland / Speyside / Highland / The Islands / Campbeltown / Islay, American Whisky (Beam range), Irish Whisky? A variety of different types and tastes etc?
Some of the literature I've read has suggested that cleansing the pallet between whiskies is helpful for ensuring accurate tasting of each whisky. Would you concur? Or what are your thoughts on the matter?
Excuse my ignorance, but when you said "For the blended Scotch, source one of the major malt components for the blend", how do I identify that? I've not gotten beyond picking and tasting a whisky and knowing that I do or don't like it.
Surely having a tasting of malts from all the regions is a way to go. The only issue is the regional specificity isn't as great as it once was. For example, Benromach Peat Smoke or Benriach Curiositas Peat are Speyside whiskies that will drink like and Islay. Conversely, unpeated Bunnahabhain from Islay could be a Highland or Speyside malt. Nevertheless, it is a fun tasting if you get more typical malts from each region.
For the blends, a little research should let you discover some of the major malts in the blend. If you don't want to spend the time to do it, send me a private email or message with your contact info and I'll send you a spreadsheet with the major 5-10 malt components for about 35 blends.
Many thanks again for your feedback Dale. It's very much appreciated. I'll have a look and see if I can find some of the info myself but I may take you up on your offer, thank you.
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