Let’s get things started.
You don’t need a smoking jacket and an armchair to appreciate a good dram of whisky these days. All you really need to start your own whisky club at home is a few mates, a few different bottles of The Glenlivet and some taste buds – all things you probably already have.
As the whisky appreciator of your group (we assume, as you’re currently reading this right now), it’s time to share that appreciation with your friends too. And for those that say they don’t like whisky? Well, we can assure you that there is a scotch for everyone, and we’ve got some interesting facts about whisky that just might whet their appetite.
So here’s what you need to start a whisky club at home:
- Friends: Self-explanatory really. You can’t start a whisky tasting club with just one member now, can you?
- The Glenlivet: Also self-explanatory. If you’ve only got a couple of expressions in your cabinet, ask your whisky-favouring friends to bring a bottle from their collection to share with the group.
- Food: For the non-whisky favouring friends (or so they think), ask them to bring a packet of oatcakes, perfect for cleansing your palate in between taste tests.
- Glasses: Don’t worry if you don’t have a whisky tasting glass – any old glasses will do! If you want to be extra fancy, find some nosing glasses that are narrow around the top to help direct the aromas right to your nose.
- Tasting notes: To help guide your taste buds and get your friends past the “I just taste whisky” phase. These can be found on the box or you can learn all about them here.
- Water: A drop or two can help bring out the flavours and aromas of the whisky. And don’t listen to those people that say adding water to whisky is against the rules. This is your whisky club, you set the rules.
How to kick off a whisky tasting party
Now that you’ve got everyone in a room and you’re all staring at a few bottles of whisky, here’s all you have to do:
Pour it. Make sure you don’t overdo it. You’re not looking for a full dram here, just enough to taste the flavours. You want to be able to revisit your favourite later in the night.
Look at it. Now that you’ve all got a suitably responsible amount of whisky in your glass, have a look. What colour is it? The lightness (or darkness) of the whisky can signify the type of cask that it’s been matured in. E.g. Founder’s Reserve is a light amber as it is matured in American oak casks, while Captain’s Reserve is much darker due to being finished in cognac casks.
Smell it. Once you’ve given it a good once over, it’s time to smell it. Breathe in slowly and deeply and some aromas will hit your nose.
Talk about them. Is it floral, fruity, vanilla-y? Again, the type of cask that the whisky has been matured in will have some influence here.
Taste it. The step you’ve all been waiting for. Put the whisky to your lips and take a sip. What do you taste? Now add a drop of water and put it to your nose – not mouth – again. Lowering the ABV and slightly increasing the temperature will help release the aromas, flavour and character of the whisky. Now you can taste it again. What else do you pick up?
Refresh it. Cleanse your palate with a swill of water and start over again with the next whisky.
To kick start your taste buds (because there’s always that one flavour you can never place), here are some things to look out for:
- Founder’s Reserve has a creamy sweetness with zesty fruits and a hint of toffee apple.
- 12 Year Old is fruity and summery with strong pineapple notes.
- Captain’s Reserve is selectively finished in cognac casks, giving it a raisin-rich flavour with honey and spicy notes.
- 15 Year Old has a sweet almond and spice flavour, thanks to maturation in French oak casks.
- 18 Year Old is rich and elegant with ripe citrus and winter spices.
Don’t worry if your friends are still “just tasting whisky”, there’s plenty of time to develop their – and your! – taste buds.
Repeat. Not just with each expression, but the whole experience. Make it a monthly thing, get together to discuss life, whisky, the universe, or whatever you want. Just make sure you’ve got a dram in front of you and life’s your oyster.
And don’t forget to add Whisky Club CEO to your resume.
Looking for more ways to enjoy whisky at home? Discover our favourite unexpected whisky and food pairings as well as how to mix whisky and beer.