Originally Posted by gunnermcgee
1. Have some black coffee or semi-sweet chocolate prior to tasting to cleanse your palate.
2. Cup the glass in one hand to warm the whisky while covering the glass with the other to trap the aromas. Remove your hand as you bring the glass to your nose (be careful, some stronger whiskies can really give you a snort!)
3. Disregard your first sip, as this is a primer for your palate. Wash the whisky around your mouth to cover all your tastebuds as different parts of your tongue pick up different flavors.
I also recommend not trying too many in one sitting, and also saving the smoky/peaty Islays for last as the heavy flavors can overwhelm your palate and not allow you to appreciate a milder whisky.
Great primer that I wish I'd seen when I first got interested in whisky and I'd just add that before trying a new whisky, particularly a strong Islay as an example, the first time drinker has a much better chance of liking it, even if it's their first whisky ever, if they'll do nothing but nosing until their senses have gotten used to it. Take your time is the important thing.
Originally Posted by wallagm
Even though this is a single malt forum, don't be afraid to try quality blended scotch. It is a great way to familiarize yourself with flavors and nuances at a lower price. Not to mention, it's a lot easier to find a Johnnie Walker Black in the bar than most obscure single malts you've been wanting to try.
Some of my favorite blends are better for me than many of the single malts I've had. Particularly have a soft spot for Johnnie Walker Green, Taketsuru 17 and Hibiki 12.