How To Run Your Own Whiskey Tasting

The Whiskey Chaps Whiskey Resource

Running a whisky tasting can be a memorable and enjoyable experience for all participants when done properly. Here’s a detailed guide on the best way to run a whisky tasting and what to avoid:


Whiskey Tasting Preparation:

  • Selection of Whiskies: Choose a variety of whiskies from different regions, ages, and styles to provide a well-rounded tasting experience.
  • Glassware: Use tulip-shaped glasses, such as Glencairn glasses, to concentrate the aromas.
  • Water and Snacks: Provide room-temperature water and palate-cleansing snacks like crackers or bread.
  • Educational Materials: Prepare tasting mats or sheets with information about each whisky, including its origin, distillery, age, and tasting notes.

Whiskey Tasting Setup:

  • Seating Arrangement: Arrange seating in a way that allows participants to interact and share their thoughts comfortably.
  • Pouring Order: Start with lighter whiskies and progress to heavier ones to avoid overwhelming the palate.
  • Pouring Size: Pour small amounts (about 30ml) to allow participants to taste without getting intoxicated.
  • Water Stations: Place water pitchers and glasses on each table for participants to cleanse their palates between tastings.

Whiskey Tasting Process:

  • Visual Examination: Encourage participants to observe the colour and viscosity of each whisky.
  • Aroma Assessment: Instruct participants to gently swirl the whisky in their glass to release the aromas and then take a moment to smell the whisky, noting any distinct scents.
  • Tasting: Participants should take a small sip, allowing the whisky to coat their entire palate before swallowing or spitting it out. Please encourage them to pay attention to the flavours, mouthfeel, and finish.
  • Discussion: Facilitate a discussion after each tasting, allowing participants to share their impressions and preferences. Provide guidance on how to identify flavours and encourage open-mindedness.
  • Note-taking: Encourage participants to jot down their thoughts and impressions for each whisky to refer back to later.

What to Avoid When Tasting Whiskey:

  • Overpouring: Avoid pouring large amounts of whisky, as it can lead to intoxication and diminish the tasting experience.
  • Rushing: Allow ample time for participants to fully experience each whisky without feeling rushed.
  • Biased Influences: Avoid influencing participants’ opinions by providing too much information or expressing personal preferences before they’ve had a chance to form their own impressions.
  • Skipping Water: Ensure participants have access to water to cleanse their palates between tastings, as it helps maintain accuracy in assessing flavours.
  • Ignoring Preferences: Respect participants’ preferences and avoid dismissing or belittling their opinions, even if they differ from your own.

By following these guidelines and avoiding common pitfalls, you can create a memorable and enjoyable whisky-tasting experience for all participants.