HOW TO GET THE PALATE AND HOW TO ENJOY A WHISKY.
How to taste a whisky and telling the difference. (By Gregers Inoue)
Lots of people have tried to describe the different types of whiskies.
Charles MacLean have made a tasting/Aroma wheel others have tried to study and split up the basic parts but...
Why is it so difficult to tell the different :
The human tongue have 4 basic senses :
Sweet - Salt - Sour and Bitter
The taste bud is mainly placed in the tongue papillas wich is placed on the tongue surface.
The taste bud on different parts of the tongue reacts different on one of the four basicflavours - sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
The combination of these four basicflavours and other stimulant such as sense of smell makes it possible to get a more sophisticated sense of taste.
Taste bud regions on the tongue is placed on different places. The front of your tongue senses sweet,
the next part of the tongue are able to taste salt,
the middle / side of you tongue reacts on sour tastes and
the bitter taste are connected with the papilla on the back of the tongue.
When a subject is mixed with saliva the cells reacts and starts a nerveimpulse to the brain.
The tasting cells / reptors are constantly lost and replaced.
The human sense of smell is much more sensitive than the sense of taste and more than 10.000 different smells can be perceived.
Due to the loss of sense of smell when getting old - children are offen able to differ more smells than adults.
Besides warning about danger as smoke and poison gas the sense of smell contributes essentially to the sense of taste.
The variation of how we sense taste (smell) are different from person to person -
but to give an exact description of a taste requires a registration of the combinations of the 4 basic senses of taste together with the more than 10.000 senses of smell in different quantity together with the individual persons ability to sense the different varies.
This also explains why a distillery producer smells to a whisky (Nosing) instead of tasting it.
One of the forces of whisky is the different taste in every bottle or the way you sense the taste.
Perpaps the whisky was made from a water source wich gives a flavour to the water that might flow througt a field of heather and grass.
The grain grow in a clayey soil with lime on a field in a vally getting its water from a hill side with lots of flowers.
Perhaps the grain was dried with smoke and heat from straw and charcoal made by oak.
and matured in burned sherrycasks made of teaktree near the sea picking up salt from the ocean.
All together mixing up water, heather, grass, grain, lime, teak, heather, oak, smoke, sherry and salt in a unknown quantity.
We prefer to taste a whisky in the following order :
1.: Straight from the bottle in livingroom temperature (20 degrees centigrade) - first smelling to the whisky.
2.: If the alcohol is to dominant / powerfull (eg. a cask strength), we might add some water (but beware water has flavor / taste too.)
Some whisky enthusiast (like Mr. Michael Jackson) claims that adding water brings out the aroma.
3.: Adding ice will further more bring down the dominant and overbearing flavours - like alcohol but also the other because when your tongue gets cold the tastingcells will bet smaller / reduce its size.
(Some uses cold/ice stones/rocks to prevent flavour from the ice / water to merge with the whisky)
We wount tell you how to drink your whisky - if you like the whisky the way you drink it - and you satisfy your sense of taste this is the right way for you to drink it.
The 'funny' part about taste and flavour is also the surroundings and your mood (You should not drink in low spirits).
Most people prefer a smooky or salty whisky with a long aftertaste and palate at bedtime or after dinner.
The sweet whiskies are (of course) prefered together with a dessert.
We can only provide you with tasting notes on our perception of the flavours and taste and it may differ from your perception.
You should try different types and brands of whisky - before you may find your favorites -
A cheap way of testing different types of whisky is by buying miniatures, buying whisky in a shop or bar, or by joining a society.
Then when you find an area or some favorite whiskies you may find more interesting whiskies in different books about whisky.
A last FAQ regarding taste:
Whisky do NOT mature or change while on bottle. Many users ask if a Whisky is good after 30 years on bottle or if it is any good.
Default the alcohol will kill any bad stuff in the bottle, the whisky will not change taste or turn bad, if not exposed to direct sun, extream hot or cold conditions.
We have tried and tested a Glen Grant directors reserve 30years old ( And after that 30 years in a celler) and the only change that we could find was that some of the abv. (Alcohol) was missing and the whisky was like mixed with a very little bit of soft water.
So go ahead enjoy the whisky that you found in a box, in the cellar or at grandparents old house.
(To be continued - This page is also translated into Danish)
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AWA - Alternative Whisky Academy is a private, none-commercial, no-profit, none-selling whisky society.