A Neat Experience
Have you ever wanted to know how to really taste a spirit? You can water it down, pour it over ice or (heaven forbid!) hold your nose and drink it in one gulp. But have you ever really savored and appreciated the flavors of a spirit? If not, I've made a little guide to help you appreciate fine spirits a little bit more.
1. Pour it neat - you can add water, ice and mixers to your liquor, but none of those things will help you experience the real flavor of what you're drinking. You can add a bit of water later if you like, but for now, keep it neat!
2. Choose the right glass - use a real glass with a tapered lip that will concentrate the aromas of your spirit. The "nose" tells you a lot about a liquor and it's hard to really take in if the mouth of the glass is too wide. A quality glass is preferable. A port glass will work in a pinch!
3. Try no more than 1-3 spirits at a time - I really prefer to just taste one, but comparisons can be fun too. Just no more than 3 tastes because after that, you're not tasting, you're just drinking a lot.
4. Make some notes - take a few moments after each taste and write down what you notice. Remember, it's your palette, so don't let anyone else tell you what it should taste like.
Some favorite pairings: hard cheese (parmesan, romano, assiago), nut (pecan, cashew or brazil nut), tart dried fruit (cranberry or cherry), dark chocolate (at least 65%). Try a small bite of each of these *before* you sip the spirit. Their own unique characteristics will bring out flavors and aromas in the spirit that weren't perceptible on its own.