We recently visited Scotland, it was hard to choose what to put on our itinerary but a whisky experience was top of the list. It’s a drink I enjoy and so I wanted to find out more about the history, how it was made and how to taste it to get the maximum enjoyment from it.
We chose to do the whisky experience at A.D. Rattray in Ayr, which is just down the road from our Craig Tara Holiday Park. Founded in 1868 its a family run business with a long heritage of expertise in the whisky industry, so where better to discover more about Scotland’s favourite drink.
We met with Raphael who, with over twenty years in the industry was clearly an expert in his field. Here are just some of the highlights that I hope will encourage you to try it for yourself and take a trip to Scotland.
Like baking a cake I knew the key process was the same but I was keen to learn. Every whisky is different and the main flavours are picked up from the oak casks the whisky matures in. These can come from all over but mainly the bourbon and sherry industries in America, but this is one of the key reasons why they taste differently. In Scotland they still add peat into the process which is what gives some a very distinctive smoky flavour like Laphroaig.
10 step guide to tasting whisky:
- Choose a glass that has a narrow opening, like a brandy glass and swill the whisky around the glass before your start.
- Put your nose into the glass and take several deep breaths to inhale the smell of the whisky.
- Then close one nostril and inhale again, then repeat on the other side.
- This will really start to activate your taste buds.
- Then take a small sip and move it around your mouth, swilling it around to coat as much of your mouth as possible.
- Then open your mouth slightly hold and inhale through your mouth.
- As the alcohol evaporates the flavours will start to appear.
- Take another tiny sip.
- Then add a few drops of still mineral water.
- Swill it, smell it and sip it.
You will then notice that the flavours will come through! This is the bit that really surprised us, we learnt that alcohol can suppress the flavour, whisky producer Whyte & Mackay said that if you drink any whisky above 38% your body can’t distinguish the flavours, so recommends adding water.
But Raphael was quick to tell us that it’s your whisky and everyone tastes things differently so you should drink it how you like it, there’s no right or wrong way.