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Top 10 Tips for Tasting Spirits Like a Professional

July 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Spirits Events

As spirits critic F. Paul Pacult so eloquently phrased it during the hands-on Spirit’s Critic seminar we attended at Tales of the Cocktail: “Gin is such a lovely invention. First, there was the wheel; then there was gin.”

Pacult guided attendees not only through his favorite gin, Plymouth, but through a whole array of other classic spirits as well including Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Chivas Regal 12 Scotch, Scapa Single Malt Scotch and Martell XO Cognac. Here are our critical takeaways from the event.

Top 10 Tips for Tasting Spirits

1. Relax. Don’t think too much and overanalyze during a tasting. Be true to the experience and allow your senses to naturally arrive at an evaluation.

2. Follow the same format every time you taste. Pacult tastes eight spirits every morning when he wakes up and only drinks green tea prior to doing so in order to prevent spoiling his palate.

3. Build a memory library. The more you taste, the more you will be able to pull from when searching for the words to explain what you’re tasting.

4. Taste blind whenever you can. Don’t be distracted by pretty bottles and fancy labels. Be true to the spirit.

5. Think about what something is not. This is especially helpful if you find yourself stuck during a blind tasting.

6. Don’t overtax your palate. Never taste more than 10 spirits in a flight.

7. Taste down to the distillation. The beauty of the spirit is rooted in the beauty of the distillation.

8. Don’t overload the senses. When nosing spirits, leave your mouth open or you’ll overwhelm the olfactory organs.

9. Never analyze the first taste. Use the first taste just to cleanse the palate.

10. Cleanse and hydrate your palate. Always have water between spirits in a tasting.

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