Friday, July 19, 2013

How to Taste Whiskey as Learned Aboard the Johnnie Walker & Sons Voyager

It's not every day I get an invitation to attend a whiskey tasting on board a luxury yacht known for entertaining the likes of David Gandy, Colin Firth, Uma Thurman and Nicole Kidman. The Voyager is on tour at the moment and only spent 3 days in London before heading to its next European destination, so this whiskey tasting was a rare experience indeed.

Johnnie Walker 'Flower' Cocktail - similar to a whiskey sour

The bar on the Voyager

The view... Not too shabby!

Inside the 'Around the World Room' on the Johnnie Walker & Sons Voyager

Alongside learning about the yacht and the Johnnie Walker brand, I was also treated to a talk about Dunhill bespoke bag services. With options and skins galore ranging from ostrich to stingray, this lovely gentleman can make anything you like. Listening to him talk about hand-crafting luxury leather goods was a highlight of the day.

My tour of the yacht ended with a whiskey tasting hosted by none other than Jim Beveridge, Master Blender for Johnnie Walker. I learned quite a few things about whiskey and how to properly taste a whiskey, so if you're keen check out the tips below:
  • Before tasting a new whiskey, always sip water. Sip it a good few times.
  • Take the whiskey and warm the bottom of the glass by cupping it with both hands, all the while swirling it around in the glass occasionally to let some air in.
  • Before taking in the nose, sip even more water to cleanse the palette. Then have a smell.
  • Continue warming the whiskey for a minute or two while sipping water before having a sip.
  • The reason for the water is this: Not only does water cleanse the palette, but it's common knowledge that it's usually good to add water to whiskey. The reason for this is that when whiskey is distilled, the flavors within the whiskey are trapped and they remain trapped even as it's bottled. Imagine there are little bubbles trapping flavors of fruit, smoke, vanilla etc. Adding water to the mix releases the flavors in whiskeys - as if those imaginary bubbles are dissolved. 
    • In addition to this, not all whiskeys are the same and for some such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label, it's best to drink them neat. Too much or two little could muddle or dissolve the flavor all together. This is why sipping water on the side when tasting is best - because the water remains in your mouth and mixes with the whiskey so the flavor releases while it's in your mouth with out muddling the flavors for the best possible tasting experience. Fascinating!
Many thanks to Johnnie Walker for having me aboard the Voyager - it was certainly a day to remember and ever so educational!

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