If you haven’t tried whisky before, then you may be thinking, what does whisky taste like? The answer to this is not straightforward because whisky can taste different because of many contributing factors. Under the Australian Distillers Association (ADA), whisky is defined as ‘a spirit obtained by the distillation of a fermented liquor of a mash of cereal grain in such a manner that the spirit possesses the taste, aroma, and other characteristics generally attributed to whisky’. Essentially it means that whisky is crafted from fermented grains and that it should taste like whisky – not exactly helpful for the novice drinker.
The best way of determining what whisky tastes like is to try them. However, buying a full-sized bottle of top-shelf whisky for tasting can be out of reach for some people. At Lark Distillery, we have solved that by releasing a series of whisky tasting sets. Our whisky sets are designed to introduce you to the delights of whisky, and they’ll come packed with a Glencairn glass to give you the best experience.
After receiving your Australian whisky tasting set from Lark Distillery, all you need is a notebook and your tastebuds to make your whisky tasting notes. Although many people enjoy a single malt whisky with a mixer, it is best to drink it neat if this is your first time with a particular whisky. After you understand the flavours, you can choose which mixer will work best to enhance those flavours.
When tasting whisky, you only need about 15ml in your glass (about three teaspoons). All whisky tasting will include three steps, appearance, aroma, and palette. Firstly, you can hold the whisky up to a light source. Note any colours, then give the liquid a swirl. Watch for how the whisky moves about. Does it move smoothly, or is it sticky? While the whisky is moving, put your nose to the glass and give it a sniff. You should smell specific flavours coming from the glass. You can write down what you experience. Finally, have a sip, allow the whisky to roll in your mouth and coat your tongue. What flavours can you find? After you swallow, do the flavours change and does anything linger?
Writing down everything you uncover during the tasting session can be excellent for comparing it to subsequent tastings. If you find the alcohol content too high, you can add a few drops of water. The water will help dilute the whisky slightly and make the flavours more apparent. Have another taste, and see if your experience is different. Finding your balance for alcohol tolerance is just as important as uncovering the flavours.
What does whisky taste like?
There are many different characteristics used to note when it comes to the question: ‘what does whisky tastes like?’
You may not know precisely what descriptions you should use as you get started tasting whisky. However, most Australian single malt whisky will have accompanying tasting notes, and you can use these as a guide. Some of the characteristics you’ll find in whisky include smokey, peaty, spicy, barley, oak, smooth, and malt.
You can use any provided notes as a guide for what you may experience. However, as some of the flavours in whisky are derived from memory, it may take time to fully develop your senses regarding whisky tasting. After you’ve spent some time tasting and sampling whisky, you could return to an earlier one and uncover some of the nuanced flavours.
The flavours you can find attributed to most whisky include malt, vanilla, oak, spices (e.g., cinnamon, allspice, etc.), dried fruit, and occasionally, smoke. The flavours of most whisky are highly nuanced, and it can be unique to the region it was distilled. For example, at Lark Distillery, we are dedicated to showcasing the best Tasmanian ingredients in our whisky.
How to store whisky?
Whisky should be kept at room temperatures, as it is best served at 15 to 18oC. If you have a particularly rare whisky, keeping these in a dedicated cellar is ideal. There are professional cellars available if you do not have one available. For most sipping whiskies, you can keep them in your home and stored in the kitchen pantry. Try to keep the bottle out of light and away from fluctuating temperatures.
It isn’t necessary to use a decanter for whisky, as the bottles are designed to keep your whisky fresh. However, if you prefer using a decanter, make sure you choose one with a tight stopper. When whisky is exposed to the air, the flavours may be altered after some time (about a week). It is recommended not to use a vintage decanter, as these may have used impure crystal, which can impart unpleasant characteristics into your whisky.
Where can I buy the best whisky?
At Lark Distillery, you can buy any of our current whisky releases from our online shop. We have special releases that you cannot find in most retail liquor stores, like our gift packs and popular whisky tasting sets.
Finding the best whisky means sampling as much as you can. An excellent source for sampling whisky is to visit whisky bars and cellar doors. In our cellar door, you have the option of tasting from a selection of over 250 local and international whiskies.
You can place an order for a whisky delivery directly through our online shop, or you can buy it from our cellar door. Our staff will be happy to pilot a whisky flight and give you an all-around experience of the whisky we make.