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Five Steps to Enjoying Fine Spirits

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Whether you are a budding oenophile, a connoisseur of scotch, brandy, or other hard liquors, or you simply enjoy the crafting skills of the microbrewer of limited release beers, there is a method to sampling these products and to gaining an understanding into their various characteristics.

Each of these five steps should be used when tasting and drinking any fine spirit; however, each category of liquor, wine, or beer may approach each step with a greater or lesser degree of variation to help your fully appreciate what it offers. Nonetheless, for enjoying spirits from throughout the realm of relaxing refreshments, these will serve you well in every instance.

Step One – Have a look

The first step is to assess the visual aspect of the liquid. Pour enough into the glass to inspect the richness of the color. Is it appropriate for the particular beverage? Checking the information on the label of the bottle will provide clues as to what you should expect to see. Look down into the liquid to assess the color and its depth, then hold it up to the light to see if its clarity is appropriate for the type of spirit. If it is a sparkling beverage, the bubbles should be appropriately sized and rise at the correct speed.

Step Two – Swirl

Swirling serves two purposes. First, it incorporates air into the liquid to release and enhance early stage aromas. Second, how the legs (those strands of liquid that slip down the wall of the glass) form and how slowly or rapidly they slide are an indication of alcohol and sugar content.

Step the Third – Inspiration, or Sniffing Things Out

Sniffing the liquid provides an early hint as to how it will taste. Take the first inhalation from a distance, and then move the glass slowly towards your nose until you reach the point where the aromas are the richest but the alcohol burn does not overwhelm them and interfere with their enjoyment.

Again, check the label on the bottle for what the manufacturer says about the aromas and what you should expect, and continue to swirl the liquid in the glass to incorporate more air and to fully release the bouquet. Try to detect any of the floral, herbal, earthy, fruit, and spice notes that it should have as well as any oak undertones like vanilla.

The Fourth Step – Sipping the Elixir

When taking sips during this stage, aspirate during the process to again bring air into the mix to release flavors. Once it is in your mouth, try to coat different areas of the tongue to take advantage of all of your taste buds. For spirits with a high alcohol content, note how strong the “burn” is, and whether it interferes with enjoying the drink.

The Fifth, and most important, Step – Savor

Take your time to enjoy everything that the preparation has to offer – its different characteristics and how they interact with one another to deliver the full profile. For fine spirits and wines, thirty to forty-five minutes or longer to linger over a glass is an appropriate length of time for greatest enjoyment.

Drinking responsibly is more than controlling your alcohol intake. It is also involves taking the time to appreciate the artisanal skills of those who crafted the spirits you are sampling. Give them their due and you will find the experience rewarding and satisfying.

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