For over 500 years Scots have been enjoying ‘the water of life’.
And there's no finer way to mark Scotland’s spirited contribution to the world than with Whisky Month, where a good dram is never far away.
In celebration of Whisky Month this May, Caledonian Sleeper, has raised a glass to the country’s national drink by teaming up with Highland Malt distillery, Dalwhinnie Distillery, to provide whisky enthusiasts with helpful hints to tasting and enjoying the drink.
Looking at the colour of a whisky instantly provides clues as to which cask type the spirit has been matured in and the flavour you might expect.
Whisky that includes colours of pale gold is likely to have spent time in an American oak cask, whereas whisky displaying a rich mahogany has matured in a European oak.
The colour of a whisky may signpost the whisky's flavour, but the real test is in the aroma and taste.
Hold the glass of whisky close to your nose. Breathe in the aroma. There will be many similar smells such as peat smoke, spiced Christmas cake, citrus and vanilla that you will be able to instantly recognise.
There are thousands of individual aromas that your nose can detect and the most highly trained nose can recognise and identify several hundred. Practise makes perfect – regular ‘nosing’ is one of the best ways to perfect whisky tasting.
Start your tasting by taking a small sip initially. Hold the whisky in your mouth. Chew very slightly and let the liquid pour over your tongue, breathing in through your nose at the same time.
There’s often a warm sensation as the whisky slips down the back of your throat and this is when the flavours linger. As you gain knowledge and experience of whisky tasting, lookout for the ‘mouth feel’ and ‘finish’. Some whiskies may start off waxy and creamy. Others are delicate and subtle.
As you learn more, you may decide that a robust, powerful and smoky whisky like Talisker is the perfect after dinner dram that leaves you with the taste of bonfires on the beach. Or, perhaps the dram for you is a Glenkinchie poured over a tumbler glass full of ice on a hot day.
There are no rules to whisky tasting but trying options with and without water or ice can make a great difference to the three simple ingredients of the drink – barley, water and yeast – which create thousands of flavours.
For more information about Dalwhinnie Distillery, visit www.discovering-distilleries.com/dalwhinnie
To find out more about the Caledonian Sleeper or to make a reservation, visit sleeper.scot