What are your spirits of choice? I love a good brandy, with Remy Martin VSOP, Courvoisier and Frapin VSOP being my usual favourite tipples. There’s always a bottle of Penderyn in the cupboard, mainly because The Boy loves it (he has good taste).

 

I love finding out about new flavour profiles and tasting notes, which is why I enrolled onto Penderyn’s virtual tasting event.

 

 

I received 2cl samples of the whisky to be discussed beforehand, along with a handy booklet. The session was led by Sian Whitelock and Shona Traynor, whilst attendees listened, sipped whisky, ruminated and swapped notes.

 

The sample box arrived with 5x 2cl bottles:

  • Single malt Madeira finish
  • Single malt peated
  • Single malt rich oak
  • Single malt sherrywood
  • Single malt portwood

 

You can enjoy whisky however you like, I personally prefer sipping it with a drop of water. If I’m in the mood for a cocktail, I will use a darker whisky in a Smoky Old Fashioned. I made the Viceroy Old Fashioned from Dishoom’s cookbook and although it took an age to make (the steeping process was one month), it was worth it. I also matched Penderyn whisky with food because once a little water was added, the flavours in the whisky range opened up which I thought would work really well alongside dishes that I’ve mentioned here.

 

Whisky tips:

  1. Take sips of water in between each tasting to clear the palate.
  2. Use a different glass for each whisky. If this is not possible, make sure you rinse out the glass before proceeding onto the next whisky tasting.
  3. Don’t add ice or water to whisky on the first taste, to get the true flavour of the whisky. Add after a few sips, once you’ve got a handle on its base flavour profile. Then add a few drops of water at a time, which should alter the flavour profile and start to ‘open up’ the whisky.
  4. After pouring the whisky, wait around 20 seconds to let it aerate a little, otherwise you’ll be walloped over the head with heavy alcohol fumes that can sometimes be overpowering.
  5. Swirl the whisky gently under your nose, before lowering your nose, just above the glass.
  6. If you really want to go all out and are mega curious about every single aspect of the whisky including colour, get a single sheet of A4 paper and hold it up behind the glass. A very general rule of thumb, is that the darker the liquid, the denser, or more intense the flavour is.
  7. When tasting whisky, you’ll hear the terms ‘nose’, ‘palate’ and ‘finish’ mentioned frequently.
    • Nose is the scents that you smell.
    • Palate is what you taste. ‘Mouthfeel’ is literally how it feels in your cake-hole.
    • Finish is what the aftertaste is. Simple.

 

Here are my tasting and pairing notes for the Penderyn tasting set in order of preference.

 

  1. Single malt peated

Pale golden in colour, like straw. Refreshing with a hint of citrus and tart green apple. Gorgeous smoky tobacco finish that lasts over 40 seconds. Would go really well as an apéritif with a fish main.

 

  1. Single malt portwood

Dark amber in colour, almost like toffee. Tasted of biscuits laced with honey. A soft, subtly sweet finish. Would go really well with hearty chicken dish such as coq au vin.

 

  1. Single malt sherrywood

Colour of tea steeped for just a few minutes. A nutty nose that tasted of hot buttered toast. A surprising dryness on the palate with a dry fruit finish. Would be great as a digestif or with a festive dessert such as a slice of Christmas cake.

 

  1. Single malt rich oak

Colour of liquid gold, fudge and fruit on the nose, and vanilla laced toffee on the palate. A long finish of vanilla means this would be great with an apple-based dessert such as tarte tatin.

 

  1. Single malt Madeira finish

One of the palest in this set. Fruit and raisins on the nose, a drying sensation on the palate, with another vanilla finish. I would pair this with a simple pasta dish, such as Cacio e Pepe.

 

 

Whisky tasting takes practise and patience. Let the flavours flow and come to you, and above all, just enjoy the ride. I tasted the whisky, and sometimes didn’t get all the tasting notes. This isn’t a negative, because different people have different palates, and you don’t have to taste all the flavours in one sitting. Take a sip, take your time, and enjoy.

 

If you want to try a DIY whisky tasting at home, you can be spontaneous and order a few small bottles (say a couple of the 2cl bottles) and just get stuck in. If you’re more of a planner and prefer a little guidance, then choose a whisky tasting set that will come with tasting notes that you can peruse whilst sipping. If you’re a total newbie to the whisky scene, I’d recommend you choose this pre-set option and work your way up to freestyle tasting, as you gain more confidence.

 

I’ll be tasting more whisky, rum and brandy over the coming weeks, so do keep your eyes peeled. Thank you for reading. If you have any spirit recommendations in these categories, I would love to know. Tweet me and I promise to get back to you stat. 🙂

 

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