Adam Scepaniak 06.24.23
Many of us are very peculiar about what we drink because we like the way it tastes to us. Maybe you are a jack ‘n coke kind of guy, or a Pendleton on the rocks kind of woman. Whatever it might be, we all have distinct tastes, preferences, and enjoy certain flavors. So, when it comes to describing the notes of a particular whiskey how do you nail that down so you are right? So, that you are interpreting the spirit as the distiller intended it to be? That is the fun part of identifying and describing whiskey notes, you can’t really be wrong and we will explain why.
“Spirited Arms” Series on AllOutdoor
Welcome to our recurring series of Spirited Arms. Here, we want to share the intricate, interwoven history of firearms and alcohol. From periods of our country’s rebellion being mere colonies to becoming our own country, the wild and unchartered west, gangsters moving illegal spirits during prohibition, and even the fascination that remains today among gun owners and those who appreciate a well-crafted drink. Hopefully along the way you can garner a greater appreciation for the libations of the past and the liquor of today. Simultaneously, we hope you can teach us things as well through sharing your own expertise and thoughts in the Comments. Understanding our past can lead us to an even greater enjoyment today surrounding the drinks and firearms we share among friends. We hope you enjoy what we have to share!
When people are talking about the notes of a drink they are not making a poorly-crafted metaphor about the spirit they are drinking. That is an actual term to describe how the alcohol and its flavors hits your palate. While some might say there is a specific way to do a proper “tasting” of a whiskey or other alcohol, what you actually taste – personally, no one else’s opinion – is never wrong. The reason being is for innumerable, changing facets. All of these things contribute to the way you will interpret, taste, and “read” the notes of a spirit:
- Mouth Palate – What you last ate? What is still digesting in your body? What you last drank (prior to sampling an alcohol)?
- Glassware – Are you using a “neat” glass (as described below)? Was your glass clean beforehand?
- Food/Alcohol Sensitivities – Do bitter tastes strike you harshly? Or, sweet ones? Do you dislike sour?
- Vocabulary – Can you describe an oaky taste without using the word oak? Do you state things uniquely and unlike others?
As you can see, there are a lot more ways to describe a whiskey or spirit other than “strong.” There is woody, smoky, oaky, spicy, citrusy, and many more. Moreover, like we mentioned, there are a lot of factors. If you and your best friend are doing a tasting together sitting on your couch you could have 2 completely different responses to the same drink. And, that is the fun of it! Neither of you are wrong. You are simply reiterating how the spirit tasted to you and no one else.
So, the next time you have someone ask you how a drink tastes to you, simply know that there is no wrong answer. Feel free to reference this whiskey notes card or even search out your own. As always, let us know all of your thoughts about whiskey notes and Spirited Arms as well as some of your favorite bourbons and whiskeys in the Comments below! We always appreciate the feedback.
Spirited Arms – Drink of the Week: Jesse Palmer’s Mountain Maple Old Fashioned (from Tincup)
- 1 – “Neat” Glass, Glass Tumbler, or Mug
- 2 ounces of TINCUP Rye
- 1/4 ounce of Maple Syrup
- 3 – 4 dashes of Chocolate Bitters
- 1 – Orange peel garnish
To start this drink, pour your TINCUP Rye into a mixing glass and add in the maple syrup and bitters. Next, stir until your maple syrup is dissolved. Add a large cube to the mixing glass and stir. Strain into a rocks glass with a large cube of ice. Finally, express the oil of an orange twist over the glass. Then, drop into the glass to garnish. Its simple, easy to craft, and it will Wow all of your friends. Be sure to give it a try!
Specific whiskey “neat” glasses exist that have gentle, precise curves designed into them to squeeze lighter ethanol molecules out of its opening and keep the heavier, delicious smelling molecules within. For tasting different vintages of whiskeys or while looking to have a greater depth of enjoyment and flavor for yourself, it is highly recommended to use a “neat” glass. If you are unfamiliar with a “neat” glass or do not have one, no worries. Simply use a common glass tumbler.